In London, Mitt Banks on the Wrong Horse

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So what do you get when you combine Mitt Romney, expensive horseflesh, fancy dinners and a financial scandal in the City of London? An interesting confluence of people and events that once again raises questions about the wealthy Republican candidate’s ability to relate to ordinary Americans and highlights the overwhelming, caustic influence of big money in this year’s presidential race.

Two weeks ago, Mitt Romney told Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he wouldn’t be joining his wife Ann at the London Summer Olympics to watch her champion dressage horse, Rafalca, compete. “I have a campaign to attend to,” Romney said, “so I won’t be able to see it perform, but I’m very pleased for [Ann].”

Speculation has been that Romney’s campaign was wary of their candidate attending an upper class equestrian happening that might only feed ongoing accusations of patrician elitism, accompanied by potentially ruinous photo ops and endless late night jokes, of which there already have been plenty – just ask Stephen Colbert. The New York Times reported:

“As millions tune in to the Olympics in prime time this summer, just before Mr. Romney will be reintroducing himself to the nation at the Republican convention, viewers are likely to see ‘up close and personal’ segments on NBC about the Romneys and dressage, a sport of six-figure horses and $1,000 saddles. The Romneys declared a loss of $77,000 on their 2010 tax returns for the share in the care and feeding of Rafalca.”

Mitt Romney carries the Olympic flame during the final leg of the torch relay for the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. (AP Photo/Massimo Pinca, File)

Mitt Romney carries the Olympic flame during the final leg of the torch relay for the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. (AP Photo/Massimo Pinca, File)

But several media outlets — including the Times, CNN, and the British newspaper The Telegraph have reported that Mitt Romney will in fact take time from the campaign to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics with his wife on July 27 (the Romney horse’s event begins Aug. 2). He was, after all, head of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. And an appearance at the opening, filled with extravagant special effects, music and patriotic flag-waving for the U.S. team, is safer than showing up at an event where your wife’s horse is worth several times the mean yearly per capita income for individuals in the United States.

So family loyalty is trumped by political expedience, but while in London, Romney will find time to attend — you guessed it — a private fundraising dinner. According to The Telegraph, “The price of invitations dwarfs the amounts paid for such fundraisers in British politics. Each guest must pay between $25,000 (£17,000) and $75,000 (£50,000) for a seat at the dinner, which will be hosted by Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays.”

Bob Diamond? Why is that name familiar? Oh right, it was announced this week that Barclays would pay American and British authorities $453 million in fines as a settlement over allegations that the financial giant manipulated international interest rates, causing millions of borrowers to pay the wrong amount on their loans. The New York Times reports, “At the height of the financial crisis, regulators say, the big British bank reported bogus figures that in some cases had influenced a benchmark for student loans, credit cards and mortgages.”

An ongoing Justice Department investigation of Barclays — as well as of other banks, including Citigroup — could lead to criminal charges. Calls have come for Diamond’s resignation. He responded by announcing that he would forego his annual bonus for the year — in 2011, Diamond received $4.2 million.

In a speech, British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said, “This cannot be about a slap on the wrist, a fine and the forgoing of bonuses… When ordinary people break the law, they face charges, prosecution and punishment.”

But of course, ordinary people don’t host $75,000-a-plate dinners for the man who may be the next president of the United States.

Update: On Tuesday, July 3, Barclays announced the resignation of CEO Bob Diamond, effective immediately. His departure follows the resignation of Marcus Agius, the bank’s chairman, who will remain in his post until a new CEO is found to replace Diamond. CNBC reports that Diamond “has pulled out of hosting a London fundraiser for Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, as the bank faces growing pressure over its role in the price-fixing of lending rates.”

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  • Deidzoeb

    Wow. I will wear the butt end of the horse costume, don’t care who gets the front end, if the Romneys will feed and care for us. We can get by on $30,000 each, and the Romneys will save $17,000.

  • udel

    We’re not  tax deductible…

  • Jan Myhre

    Holy crap!  How did the rich fall so far down the rabbit hole?   As we all know Wonderland was a land of the crazies who lived without rules.

  • Beweez

    So? Envy doesn’t look good on any one.

  • Finearts

    Only the cheap saddles are $1,000. Even us who are “horse poor” try to buy better for the horse and rider’s sake.

  • Joshua Drolte

    The discussion of Mitt in this article wasn’t done with envy. It was done with scrutiny.

  • Pat Muccigrosso

    Interesting and disturbing article.  Agree that only cheap saddles cost $1000 and dressage riders are the worst when it comes to spending on tack – my friend’s custom made saddle was close to $4000 and she isn’t rich, just determined.  Want to see how bad it will be if Mitt Romney wins?  Check out Bernie Sanders (VT-D) wrap up of how much damage the Republican party has done to the 99% who are not rich.

  • Beehaven

    How many horses will fit on the top of a station wagon?

  • Anonymous

    I question the legality (we already know the morality) of foreign contributors giving money to a U.S. presidential candidate.   Does anyone here have an answer to my question?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know, but I know 6 to 8 will fit under the hood.

  • Anonymous

    I am hoping to get my hands on “Twilight of the Elites”, Chris Hayes new book about the vast divide between the ultra-rich and the majority of Americans.  I feel I have been a witness to some of this division.  I live in an upper middle class neighborhood not far from the powerfully wealthy  of Great Falls, and MacLean, VA.  The rich are living in a rarified strata where they do not “see” the problems of the hardworking struggling poor.   I also live very close to neighborhoods where people have to work 2 and 3 jobs to pay rent and who depend on food stamps and who couldn’t afford healthcare. I work in the county’s public schools and see the children of both groups.  It is a problem, this great divide.  And it isn’t right for America.  It is downright unpatriotic.

  • Davideros

    It’s not about envy, Beweez. It’s about the taint of corruption, the propriety of a potential president supping at a fundraiser hosted by the head of a bank awash in financial skullduggery that may go favor seeking at the White House after election day.

  • Irwin B. Platzner

    Unbelievable…A must read…Romney is so out of touch with reality…It’s the 1% vs the 99%!!! The Platzner Post Facebook, and Twitter

  • Dlewisto

    OUT OF TOUCH?  So far out of touch, he isn’t on the same planet! 
    I’m a single, retired woman, living in the central plains.  Temperatures here have been well over 100° for more than a week.  I am debating on whether I can afford to have air conditioning installed in my home.  Fortunately, I have a window unit so I have 2 rooms that are habitable, the rest of the house is over 90°, day after day. 

    I am doing better than many Americans.  While we work on how to survive a heat wave, just one challenge facing many of the 99%, Romney is sitting down to a dinner where people are spending $75K to curry his favor.  He probably has air conditioning in his car elevator, how can you even wonder if he is out of touch? 

  • Anonymous

    Gee, if I pool my entire social security check along with my pension check for the entire year, I can’t even afford a cheap seat at that dinner. Out of touch is putting it mildly! He’s not even in the same solar system as the rest of us. God help us if he gets in the White House!

  • karenj503

    How many of the Seven Deadly Sins is Mitt Romney guilty of?

    He’s been envious of the office of POTUS for years, and lusts after it.
    He’s prideful in his 1% status.
    He was greedy in attaining that status.
    He’s wrathful when someone challenges him on his lack of principles.
    He’s lazy in running his campaign, employing sloppy ignorant minions.
    He’s a glutton for punishment.

  • Me

    No mention of George Clooney gowing to Europe to host a $30,000+ a person fundraiser for Obama.  Did Moyers ever complain about John Kerry’s wealth? Somehow I doubt it.

  • Davideros

    Actually, there was a piece on this website about Obama fundraising and celebrities just last week. And as far as I can see, the point of this piece is about Romney hobnobbing in London with a banker under investigation for fraud in the US and the UK.

  • Davideros
  • Anonymous

    Who knew that care and feeding of a dressage horse was tax deductible? 

    There are pleanty of  Ameicans who earn less than the $77,000/year Romeny deducts from his taxes for the care and feeding of that horse.

    What color is the sky on Mitt’s planet?

  • Dixiemon

    Clooney din’t “gowing” (sic) to Europe and Kerry never had the out of touch perception Romney has aquired.  Kerry never asserted that corporation are people etc…..

  • labman57

    I’m surprised Romney would associate with this guy, not because the CEO behaved unethically … but because he allowed himself to get caught.

    To Mitt and his corporate supporters, manipulating financial markets for personal gain is not unethical, it’s simply shrewd business practice.

  • Dlewisto

    From what I can see, manipulation for personal gain wherever possible is a character trait of Romney, ie: the selling of the horse that was drugged during inspection to cover serious physical problems.  They try to play this off with “Mitt wasn’t involved” and his wife “wasn’t involved” in the sale, that the trainer was at fault, but employees almost always have a clear picture of what is acceptable to their employer and they conduct business within those lines.  If they manipulate/defraud others as part of their job, they pretty clearly KNOW that this kind of conduct is acceptable to their employer. 
    I don’t consider unscrupulous practices acceptable anywhere, definitely not in a president. 

  • mbrecker

    How come foreign contributors can give money? Thank the Supreme Court for that.

    As far as US MSM virtually ignoring this story, this isn’t the first time they’ve ignored UK news. When Nick Clegg ran against Gordon Brown and Cameron in the first Prime Minister TV debates, almost no Stateside media outlet mentioned Clegg (the Liberal Democrat). Why then would they start doing their job now?

  • Drshook18

    From the tone of this piece you would gather that Obama doesn’t do fund-raisers with rich people. 

  • Davideros

    Drshook, on this same website, by the same author, see: “The President’s Never-Ending Campaign for Cash.”

    Aim before you shoot.

  • Bia

    never ending, actually your President has been busy working  1. immigration. 2. gay rights 3. colorado disaster etc. etc. etc.

  • Carolb

    Sorry, but dressage isn’t limited to the wealthy.  There are plenty of us poorer folk enjoying it.  We love our horses which do not cost $100,000 or more and enjoy the challenge!!!

  • Anthony

    How many fingers old are you today, Bia?

  • Jerry Fair

     Don’t worry. Mr. Robme will not get in the White House; at least not as president. The American people are dumb but they not that dumb.

  • Jerry Fair

     What do mean “may” go? You can bet your $1000 saddle there will be a line around the block of bankers and wall street money grabbers. If you need anything from a Robme administration you better have a least 20 million in the bank and want to get to 40 million.

  • clearthinker

    Republicans took this, of course, as an attack on Anne Romney, who gets relief from her MS by doing this dressage and using it as a tax deduction.

  • clearthinker

    I see someone mentions Obama does fundraising, from wealthy Americans.  Yes, he does, but that does not equate.  This is about Romney, distance from us regular folk,  his ultra-wealthy lifestyle.  There is no comparison.

  • Fp

    The 453 million was repaid. Who is going to repay the 500+ million Obama wasted on Solybdra?

  • teresabeesa

    hil2….Now that’s funnnneeee! =))