Did Mitt Romney Illegally Use Corporate Funds to Pay Off Consultants?

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"Did Mitt Romney Illegally Use Corporate Funds to Pay Off Consultants?"

Right-wing Massachusetts Governor and potential presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is in hot water. According to the Boston Globe, Romney may have used corporate cash to pay his top consultant Mike Murphy for political work, which is illegal under the state’s campaign finance law.

It’s a juicy story: last August, during the Republican National Convention, several Massachussetts corporations dished out $258,000 for a fundraiser in Romney’s honor. Corporate donations are generally prohibited, but those rules don’t apply to political conventions, “where large amounts of corporate money flow freely, to entertain delegates and underwrite events honoring political figures.”

Then, several months later, Murphy’s firm (which helped organize the gala) sent an invoice to the corporate donors asking for another $105,000 beyond their original contributions. The extra cash was supposedly needed for “additional catering.”

Just one problem: the event’s caterers “contradict that contention,” and say they “never heard about” any extra costs. And when asked to provide documentation showing these new costs, Romney’s consultants refused, saying it was private. (A top-secret catering bill?) For his part, Gov. Romney has also refused to talk about the finances of the event, though his spokesman said the governor “accepts the accounting” by the consulting firm.

There’s another twist. A possible explanation for the alleged pay-off is found in the Globe’s follow-up story. Apparently Murphy’s consulting firm had been receiving “an $11,000 monthly retainer from the state Republican Party from January 2003 to December 2004.” But those payments were abruptly ended in January — just a month after Murphy’s firm requested the additional $105,000 – so the party could “save cash in anticipation of the 2006 election.” Moreover, though Murphy claims the money his firm received from the corporate sponsors “has been passed on to event vendors,” a partner at his firm told the Globe that the money hadn’t gone anywhere, and was still in the firm’s bank accounts.

It’s time for Gov. Romney and his political machine to come clean (and for the non-Massachusetts media to start covering this story).

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