Mitt's Equity Army

Four years ago I wrote a lengthy article about the overlapping circles of Mitt Romney's business and political worlds -- and his manipulation of those intersections to enrich himself and those who were helpful to him, or could be in the future.

Today, Donovan Slack has a great article in the Boston Globe, about a remarkable new equity fund created after the 2008 election cycle by Romney's top fundraiser Spencer Zwick and Romney scion Taggart. They got big investments from Romney contributors, then turned around and invested the money in equity funds run by, guess what, Romney bundlers.

As I have long pointed out regarding Romney, when you control (or at least can strongly influence) the movement of billions of dollars, you have tremendous ability to do nice favors for people. Not in an evil, thieving way -- in a normal, course-of-business way, because every time a large amount of money moves around, small pieces of it (which is still a lot) get dropped off somewhere: depending on the type of transaction, that can include fund managers, accountants, securities dealers, law firms, etc. etc. etc.

Slack writes that all 13 firms whose equity funds apparently received the investments of the Zwick-Taggart fund are run by Romney contributors. She names several, and as someone who spends an unhealthy amount of time going through Romney campaign-finance material, I can assure you that they are not mere contributors but major, major fundraisers.

The whole thing has the appearance of a massive game of back-scratching. First: candidate tells elite group that if they raise a quarter-million for Mitt, he'll owe them later. Elite group goes to people they can help (employees, firms they do business with, investors) and says if you give $2500 to Mitt, we'll owe you later. After the election, this Zwick-Taggart business provides the payoff for all those favors owed. And who does it raise the money from -- those trying to work their way up to bigger favors.

As Brookings Institution's Stephen Hess says at the end of Slack's article, this is all just how the game is played inside those elite financial circles. It just happens that Romney plays the game for political ends rather than purely financial ones.

Or, it could be none of that. It sure has that appearance, though -- and, as I wrote four years ago, Romney's career has had that appearance for a very long time.

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