Romney’s tithing and the case of the Mormon Blue Blood

Seriously? So Romney doesn’t want to disclose his financial returns because he feels that the amount of tithing he pays to the church should be private?  Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s  rationale is that  Romney’s desire for tithing privacy is meant to save the recipients of his tithing largesse from the embarrassing position of having their financial need nationally publicised?

Bollocks!!  Unless, as a big donor, he has the inside running on where his money is spent by the Corporation of the President, he won’t have a clue where his pingers are going.  We Mormons have been lead to believe that like everyone else’s money, Romney’s $millions go into a big huge tithing pot along with the $hundreds donated by that sweet super-annuitant couple who faithfully show up to church in their Nissan Micra.

On the other hand if this were true it would indicate that despite the supposedly and much trumpeted egalitarian nature of tithing, someone with a big cheque for LDS inc. gets a degree of economic power in the church that is denied everyone else.  Either way he needs to fire his communications advisor because the stupidity on his stump is monstrous.   What about this from the Salt Lake Tribune?:

“I love tithing,” Ann Romney tells the magazine. “When Mitt and I give that check, I actually cry.”

What a piffle!  I simply can’t imagine Mitt and Ann, on the eve of the Sabbath weepingly pouring over their checkbook as they fill in the stump with their weekly $76,923.07  in anticipation of handing it onto a member of the Bishopric at church the next day.   People like Mitt  would most likely wire their tithing straight to church headquarters.  Theoretically anyone can do this, but it’s the preferred option for those with means.  It keeps their contributions private from the local clerks because clearly their personal net worth shouldn’t be too, too obvious to us lesser folk.

There can only be one of four credible explanations for Romney’s reticence to disclose:

  1. He hasn’t paid a full tithe.  This would undermine the credibility of his church leadership and indeed his ‘worthiness.  I don’t really care how much he has paid but  I’m fairly confident that someone like Mitt will be concerned that his tithe be understood as a ‘gross’ and anything that comes short of that would, at least among the orthodox, come across as a spiritual shortfall.
  2. He’s paid too much and he’s embarrassed by his personal generosity.   Its possible, but who would know?
  3. Tithing is his straw-man.   He wants the US electorate to say, ‘Aww – what a sweet-heart, leave the poor chap alone – and here’s my vote Mitt’  (hence the need to fire his communications advisor).
  4. He’s a Mormon blue blood – through and through.


I want to clarify what I mean by point 4.

In my late adolescence I was romantically ensconced with one of these young Mormon blue bloods.  This was a pedigree that reached the heavens through the First Presidency, with a good dose of intergenerational wealth thrown in for good measure.  The family was impeccable, their manners were flawless, their hospitality was legendary, their morals beyond reproach.    They even looked good.   Everything about this family made my paltry attempts at exaltation look positively mediocre because I couldn’t dress it up with the upper middle-class accoutrements that made their Mormonism look divine.  The fact that their beautiful son had taken up with a working class bastard indigene with a bit of ‘history’ made them slightly ‘uneasy’.  Not that they said so – they would never be that rude, but there was always a palpable sense of discomfit that I could read on the air.  Don’t get me wrong, they were always kind, and pleasant and kept their concerns to themselves – sort of.

I recall one day wandering the leafy streets of Christchurch hand in hand with my beloved when I began a course altering interchange with said Mormon Prince.  I’d had enough of his regaling  me with all kinds of impressive anecdotes about millionaire siblings,  plains-crossing stalwarts,  the brilliance and beauty of the inner circle, and his brushes with LDS greatness and their small intermarried gene pool.  So in retaliation I retorted with my own story.

“My Great, Great Grandfather Te Hau Takiri Wharepapa was a renown Ngā Puhi chief who went to England in 1863 to meet Queen Victoria”.

I did all that I could do to inflate the import of my ancestor and his offspring in order to meet this boy eye to eye.  In actual fact Wharepapa was quite the man but in this moment some extrapolations were necessary because I was  tired of being made to feel spiritually second-class.  At least in this place, Aotearoa/New Zealand,  I had a whakapapa, a genealogy that made me proud– they may not have been Mormon blue blood bones – but they were good people who survived a brutal colonial incursion with grace and dignity.

I was surprised when he grew irritated with me.  I can’t exactly pin down what set him off but I am guessing that this challenge to his singular pedigree had him in a tizz.  He was usually very articulate but in this moment when all of the words to provide a rational retort for his obvious genetic superiority evaded him, he grew peevish and cranky.  What I believe he was trying to say was, “But my pedigree is better than yours.”  I’m confident that that was what he meant because he was in the habit of reminding me that the fortunate circumstances as to the conditions of his birth were consequent to his pre-earth faithfulness.  Of course the implied binary was glaring and reflected rather badly upon my obvious ante-mortal naughtiness.   It was in that moment that I knew in my heart of hearts that I would never, could never marry him.

So what does this have to do with Romney?   This Mormon inner ‘wealthier than wealthy’ sanctum is so small and smug that Romney and his ilk  have been deprived of the kind of worlds, and words to help them make sense of themselves.  Rather than explore the social, economic, cultural and political trajectories that lead him to his fortune and fame, he has likely defaulted to the myopic language of the Mormon blue bloods.  “God ordained this – I am his special servant – He needs me  (and my money).”  Beyond this explicit and implied language there are few resources with which to respond and explain one’s privilege.

In any other sphere this might be considered a symptom of social narcissism, but in Mormonism our fundamentalist roots has spawned a dazzling strain of self-importance with a huge dose of theology to accompany it.  So when it comes to his confessions of humility around his donor giving Romney has deployed a predictable rhetorical strategy to meet this challenge and confrontation.  He has drawn upon the language of his Mormon patrology to provide a sacralized version of his impeccable financial ethics.  Not only this, in his attempt to do so he screams resoundingly to the low-dollar-donors – “The context of my giving is superior to yours”.

If you want an explanation for why Romney’s vacillation between silence and his inappropriate extemporaneous ejaculations  – this is the reason.  The language of Romney’s brand of upper-class  elitist Mormonism is tidy, but it’s tiny.  Romney’s singular Mormon world will teach him to be gracious, impeccable, charming and restrained.  But it will never, ever challenge him to think beyond an imperialistic, haughty, superior, elitist culturally constructed theology that renders him, utterly, absolutely and unashamedly entitled.  His world has likely never given him the language to express a complex and a thoughtful faith,  to know and understand the struggles of others outside of some simple paternalistic  binaries and the service project, he has never had to know other’s truths, other’s stories of suffering beyond the confession.  It is entirely possible that his elitist rarefied Mormon world has inoculated him from a searing, critical and personal assault on his entitlement that forces him to look at social inequality as a systemic problem rather than a feature of some daft bugger’s poor, Godless decision making!

Clearly, I’m exercised about this, and as a New Zealander my opinion on Romney is (at least electorally speaking) meaningless.  But the US has in the past delivered its fair share of moron Presidents who have had a lasting, even fatal impact upon the rest of the world.   So I’m begging anyone who will listen – not Romney – please.  By all means have a Mormon as the US President – but not this kind of Mormon.

The 15 Ailments of the LDS Church (With a hat tip to Pope Francis)
Why Leaving the Church Often Means Leaving God
On Despising Mormon Polygamy
On tuning into another LGBT drama in ‘Murica
  • Valerie

    Amen. Twice. .:))

  • John

    Haven’t had any encounters with the Mormon Blue Bloods, but know the Accountants, Lawyers, and others who make a good salary working for them. Wealth equating to righteousness is an assumption that goes in and out of fashion. Mormons like to remember that the Nephites in the Book of Mormon were blessed with riches but have some collective amnesia about the rest of the lesson, that the pride that came with the wealth lead to their downfall. I know that there are good wealthy people in the church that have some good qualities, humility may be on short supply though.

  • Ganesh

    An American Presidential race is crazy. Mitt Romney being a Mormon creates all kinds of crazy. If it were me, I would on one hand be excited about sharing the principals of my faith that I think have really blessed my life on the other worried that some begrudged or mentally unhinged member that I counselled as a Bishop would paint me as villain. Either way looking at my life through a microscope would yield much good and much bad all up to the discretion of the press to report.

    In the little town I live the people are not excited about having a Mormon candidate but they are die hard Republicans so what can they do. They toe the party line reluctantly but that could easily turn to resentment if either the race is lost or the next four years are worse than the last.

    I have encountered some blue bloods in my time. I once had a family not excited about me dating their daughter because I did not have the right Mormon credentials (convert, divorced parents, mixed culture, financially suspect). Now I look back I just see a parents concerned for their child, trying to get them to a better circumstance in life through a ‘good match’ – I have been guilty of equally prejudicial treatment of others for which I am now sorry. Of course there are probably some current prejudices I have that I am not willing to face yet including my feelings about Mitt Romney.

    • kiwimormon

      Of course all parents feel that way about the children. I don’t blame them really. Its just that as a young person trying to find your place in the world class judgements seem so out of step with a Christian disposition. Still – all the better for them to shoe me off with their polite disapproval. Imagine how they’d feel now?

  • Glenn Thigpen

    A scathing appraisal of a man that you do not know complete with the proper labels to properly stereotype him.


    • kiwimormon

      Yes it was wasn’t it! I’m such a bitch!

  • Jeff


    My local Congressman is Jeff Flake – I got to know Flake quite well because his son played on the youth rugby team I help coach. Flake is a non blue blood Mormon now running for the AZ Senate seat vacated by Jon Kyle. Flake told me what’s in Romney’s tax returns because Romney furnished 20 years’ worth of them to the McCain campaign in 2008 when Romney was being vetted for a possible VP slot and John McCain and Flake are good mates. Romney apparently overpaid his taxes so he’s got nothing to hide in that regard. Flake postulates two theories as to why he hasn’t released them:
    1 – Romney’s affairs are complex and, like many wealthy people in America (including Democrats), a small portion of his investments are held offshore and yes a little bit in a Swiss bank account (although not any more due to the recent actions of the IRS against the Swiss banks leading said banks to no longer hold funds for US citizens). The sums Romney apparently has had in offshore accounts are about the same as those invested in similar types of accounts and similar international jurisdictions by prominent Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and current Democratic National Committee Chair Congressman Debbie Wasserman Shultz. Furthermore because Romney’s income in the last few decades has come from dividends on shares – these are all taxed at around 15% in the US because the company whose shares he owns already paid tax on their profits BEFORE distribution of dividends to prevent shareholders from being subjected to double taxation. New Zealand accomplises the same net effect (to avoid double taxation) by allowing imputation credits which means the tax the company paid is credited towards the tax payable by the shareholder receiving the dividend. A hostile Obama leaning media is going to struggle to explain the complexity of double taxation when a headline about Romney paying too little tax sells papers and drives up viewers.

    Flake believes the Romney campaign knows that the left leaning media would spend an inordinate amount of time finding any obscure investment to demagogue and criticize Romney over and that the double standard of reporting (not reporting on prominent Democrat politicians who have similar investments) means that the campaign are better to weather the storm of criticism over failure to release more returns than the 2010 and 2011 he has released is better than the drip drip drip of shock horror – his mutual fund had some money in the Cayman Islands. The strategy seems to be working – Obama has unloaded $120 million worth of attack ads onto Romney in the battleground states versus Romney spending about $20 million over the summer (Romney is restrained from spending all funds he raised for the General Election until after the GOP Convention next week) and Romney is neck and neck with Obama in the nationwide tracking polls and now almost level with Obama and rising in the battleground state polls. Obama is raising less and spending more than Romney and will face a $100 million cash deficit vis a vis the Romney campaign come September when voters really start to pay attention – not a good position to be in in the run up to the election.

    2 – Some commentators here think that Romney is waiting until the thick of the campaign to challenge Obama that he will release 10 more years of his tax returns when Obama releases all the documents that hitherto have remained sealed and unreleased even since the 2008 campaign (for which the fawning media never pinged him on) namely: his full medical records, his full undergraduate transcripts when at Columbia, his full transcripts when at Harvard Law School, his work when President of the Harvard Law Review and his employment records when he taught at the Chicago Law School. Romney has released all these types of records.

    Two people in my ward served their missions in Paris France with Mitt Romney. He ran the mission as senior Assistant for 3 months after the Mission President’s wife was killed in a tragic car accident (that Romney himself was injured in) as the MP was too distraught and went home and it took 3 months for the Church to find a new MP. They said he was sincere, hard working, successful and empathetic. A High Counselor also resident in my ward served under Romney in Boston first when as his Bishop and then on the High Council with him and then under him as Stake President – he says that Romney was hard working, kind and empathetic in all those callings and recounted many acts of personal charity that Romney performed. He gave freely of his wealth personally and privately to many in need. Once when Romney ran Bain one of his staff member’s daughters went missing and he allowed all his staff to take days off work to set up a search centre and he funded private detectives and other costs until the girl was found. It’s not a sin to be rich but, like many on the left, your characterizations of Romney are of a heartless arrogant plutocrat. Those close to him and who have seen him in action close up over many years say otherwise.

    • kiwimormon

      Jeff I can’t approve your all of your comments – you have publically identified the subjects of my reflections – something I was scrupulous about not doing. Grrrr.

      I’ll take the arrogant jibe but I’m hardly a plutocrat, and I don’t think I’m heartless either. Fierce and pissed off – but not heartless.

      If all that you are saying is true about Romney – and remember that I didn’t argue that he was no doubt a kind man (they all are), why on earth has there been no, none, zero, statements that has convinced anyone that he has any idea, any understanding of the systemic issues that have lead to social inequalities nor the fiercely guarded privileges held by the US elite since Europeans landed their sorry asses in the US. Every time he has opened his mouth he reeks of the halitosis of the meritocratic. My argument is that Romney’s religious context has done nothing to provide him with a language, a context, a theory that adequately maps out a decent Christian response to racial, class, or social differences. Interestingly the Book of Mormon does, but our common churched language has successfully obfuscated the tome’s searing condemnation of the kinds of political economy that you so ardently cling to.

      I didn’t say that Romney wasn’t kind, or even generous. In fact I made pains to identify the possibility that he was in all likelihood a charming likeable person. There are loads of Mormons like that – we do middle-class nice par excellence. I’m saying he’s a paternalist who finds a great deal of self-satisfaction in being personally responsible for meeting peoples needs – which is lovely, but how the hell has he translated that into an economic plan that addresses the startling and horrific inequalities that your brand of capitalism has devastated the world with? He hasn’t – and thats my point!!!

      And you may mystify the economic machinations of the Romney corporate machine all you like. It doesn’t change the fact that he (and many of his kind) have sought to deprive government of the revenue they require to keep a nation well resourced enough to provide decent public services and address systemic inequalities. And this is the public sector he wants to preside over – come on mate!!!!!

    • Jeff

      Fair cop on the comment – my apologies. I wasn’t saying that YOU were a heartless plutocrat – you are neither – I was saying that you (and many others who are his political opponents) portray Romney as such and I don’t believe he is.

      I was seeking to answer your question about why Romney might be not releasing his tax returns. His opponents see something sinister in it – the truth is far more mundane and boils down to campaign tactics.

      Once again this is a clash of world views. Romney sees the greatest good coming to the greatest number of people from a free enterprise system and I agree. You do not. That’s what makes democracy so marvellous.

      Romney pays the tax the system tells him to (slightly more apparently). If you add what the companies he holds stock in also paid in tax on the profits he is sharing in to the dividend tax rate he pays, the combined rate would be 35%. If this rate was considered by those who believe the rich should pay more to be too low then why on earth when Obama enjoyed a huge majority in the House AND a filibuster proof majority in the Senate (from 2008 – 2010) did he not just raise taxes on the rich. Its because even some Democrats realise that raising tax rates on the rich does not result in more tax revenue – that was proven in the lack of new income tax revenue that the Clark/Cullen government were able to raise from those earning over $60,000 when Labour raised the marginal rate from 33 to 39%. When the US had marginal tax rates over 90% in the 1950′s hardly a soul paid it. The reason why high marginal taxes never raise anywhere near the revenue they are expected to is not just because the rich can structure their affairs to avoid it – it is because those who create wealth (the wealth that governments taxes to pay for welfare, health and education) are disincentivised from expanding their wealth beyond the threshold when the higher taxes kick in. When Kennedy slashed the high marginal rates in the 60′s the wealthy ended up paying MORE in taxes because they expanded their revenue and many were no longer interested in paying for complex avoidance schemes.

      In addition to his taxes, Romney makes sizable charitable donations – much of it to the church. The wealthy like Warren Buffet who say he should be taxed more have the opportunity to voluntarily pay more in tax than the official rate – there is even a special box for it on the tax return (the IRD offers the same apparently). Strangely all the ‘altruistic’ rich who want us all to pay more tax never avail themselves of the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is.

  • kramer

    Don’t forget that Warren Buffet has a large amount of unpaid taxes. If he was really concerned about the wealthy paying their “fair share” he could pay what he already owes.

  • Aaron

    I just about fell off my chair laughing when I read about the tithing dodge. Romney displays, if I may say so, a snotty rich man’s arrogance here. He seems to think he is above having to share such information with the unwashed masses. No, Br. Mitt, you are not. You are running for president of the nation. You should have put your financial affairs in order years ago, dumped the offshore and Swiss bank accounts, simplified your finances and made everything public early on so there would be no questions. If you were or are unwilling to do that, you should not be running and you should not be elected.

  • Glenn Thigpen

    Kwimormon, I do not think that you are the “b” word. I do think you are incensed, unduly, and you comments are emotional rather than rational.


    • kiwimormon

      You are too kind Glenn!!

      • Glenn Thigpen

        kiwimormon, I did not mean to be offensive or to make it personal. I apologize for that. I could have and should have worded my reply better. Thanks for a reply that gently led me to reread my response.


    • kiwimormon
  • YvonneS

    That was an interesting read. I am always surprised by the way the things we think are so obvious are not seen that way at all. I don’t know why Romney doesn’t release his tax returns. I do know a lot of people are mad about it. The problem is there are so many people who think they can influence some other person that the whole process just gets crazier and crazier. I don’t suppose there are very many Mormons who live in the US who just don’t trust him. They see him through nice clean pretty glasses. On the other side of that though there aren’t enough of them to win the election.

  • Lucy

    interesting you call yourself a mormon still….judge not least ye be judged ring a bell? or let he who is without sin cast the first stone? Good on him for not advertising how much he pays in tithing… I feel tithing is between you and the lord. I commend him on the decent job he is doing portraying our church, you however, I do not.

    • kiwimormon

      All right – on the basis of your argument I’ll step back from my Mormon identity when you do. How’s that for a deal?

  • Glenn Thigpen

    YvonneS, Are there really a lot of people really mad about Romney not releasing all of his tax returns? Or is it just more politcal hypeerbole? Is there really any legitmate reason to be angry at Romney overthis? Or, is it people nitpicking because they can find nothing to really jump on him about. There is no adultery to be hypocritical about. There are no lurid scandals to be pulled out and trumpeted far and wide. The only reason to hate him seems to be that he is rich. The consus of opinion of those that actually know Romney personally is that he is a kind, honest, caring, decent human being.
    The real issues do not seem to being debated here.


  • kiwimormon

    Glenn, its not that he is rich – its the way he became rich that is a major major concern. Romney has been notoriously involved in all kinds of exotic financial instruments such as AVI’s, credit swaps and other derivatives to both generate income and to shelter from tax liability. This has involved betting on companies to fail, purchasing high risk debt and on-selling as a secure financial investment while taking no responsibility for the security for that debt. An even more significant issue at this point is that he has hidden his wealth in off-shore shelters rather than pay his taxes. For someone who wants to run your country there has to be an element of duplicity and even callousness in purposefully depriving it of the revenue it requires to operate its services to the people. Romney has been directly involved in benefiting from all of the financial machinations that has left the US in a financial pickle. Did he personally take a hit for the sub-prime lending that he gambled on? Its unlikely. Yet he’s happily enjoyed his good fortune while the burden and the consequences for the kinds of duplicitous financial manipulations that he was and continues to facilitate is not born by him – its born by those who lost homes and jobs. He may be a ‘nice’ guy but he’s calculating and unrepentant about the way he’s made his dubious fortune which, if I was a voter in your country places a huge question mark over him – as it should everyone.

    • Jeff

      So much to unpick here Gina.

      First off the exotic financial instruments are only exotic to the uninformed. They are an important part of the financial world and are used by people of all political persuasions to enhance or protect wealth including prominent Democrats like Nancy Pelosi , Al Gore and John Kerry who also ran for President. I don’t recall you, the Huffington Post or the media obsessing over how John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz used these same instruments including offshore investments the exact same way Romney does. Perhaps it’s because they have a D after their name and Romney has an R. If you get wealthy and use these methods to acquire and protect wealth when you are a liberal it’s all good because your politics is OK but when you are a conservative its always for nefarious greedy selfish reasons even though conservatives like Romney are massively more generous with their wealth than Gore or Kerry ever have been. Why didn’t Pelosi and Obama close, repeal or modify these terrible mean bad horrible instruments and tax loopholes when they had a huge House majority and a filibuster proof Senate from 2008 – 2009? Why indeed.

      Bain did not bet on companies to fail. The whole notion of being a venture capitalist is betting on them to succeed! Because I too raise investment capital I can assure you that no one will invest with you if you plan to back companies planning to fail. Bain became so successful and popular with investors precisely because Romney’s team had a track record in backing winners with more regularity than most VCs. Sure a few did fail but that is capitalism and the huge increase in investor wealth from the Staples and Sports Authority (and many others) successes dramatically overwhelmed the failures like GST Steel.

      The GFC was not caused by financial instruments – it was caused by do-gooding liberals passing laws forcing banks to make loans to uncreditworthy people, changing the interpretation of those laws making renewal of banking licenses dependent on the extent to which they set aside normal lending criteria to help those with poor credit, the greenlighting of the mammoth federal government backed mortgage aggregators to securitize these subprime loans into big bundles to sell on Wall St (Wall St realizing that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had the Treasury behind them if they failed) and finally the antics of left leaning politicians like former Sen. Chris Dodd and current Congressmen Barney Franks who both as respective Chairs of Democrat controlled Senate and House Banking Committees in 2007 blocked the Bush Administration attempts to have GREATER regulatory oversight over the very federal mortgage aggregators who were buying these bundles of risky mortgages. When you incentivize a whole new group of buyers into real estate markets with mortgages that no prudent lender would ever approve unless forced to by government fiat then you get a classic bubble and bubbles ALWAYS collapse. With the eventual collapse of the underlying asset value, the value of the securitized bundles of mortgages collapsed and with it went the net worth of major broker houses and banks – THAT is what caused the crisis not the tiny portion of Mitt Romney’s investment portfolio that he chose to hedge.

      The only duplicity is that those on the left who conduct their affairs this way are given a pass from scrutiny while those on the right have $100 million in attack ads spent in battleground states being demonized for the exact same practices.

      • kiwimormon

        You are of course assuming that anyone who criticizes Romney is an Obama supporter. I love that he’s a black man but I think he’s a gimp and a sell out. I’m not on the D wagon in any way shape or form and if I was American I think I would have backed huntsman and slit my wrists at the poor choice that both parties have put up in the race.

        I don’t give a fat rats what dems benefitted from those those clearly obfuscated (except for the exceptional few) financial instruments, the repeal of glass steagall was egregious and immoral but I don’t see Romney on the hustings addressing a bust that he was in the thick of.

      • kiwimormon

        I’m speechless – I wouldn’t even know where to start Jeff. Honestly – are you serious? The CRA never forced banking institutions to take on high-risk debt that would see an eventual losses for the lender. Up to 75% of institutions offering subprime mortgages weren’t or were only partially CRA regulated. CRA regulated institutions were less likely to make subprime loans, their interest rates were lower and are less likely to on sell the loans. Did CRA enforce teaser rates or did it manufacture ‘Structured Finance’? Were CRA regulated banks required to create supposedly safe investments out of risky loans? Were CRA regulated banks required to front load fees, and shield investors from an awareness of their full exposure to the subprime area? Did CRA force the Federal Reserve to slash interest rates increasing the supply of credit and the consequent borrowing spree? As Raines said at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – it might have led to some bad behaviour but you can’t possible pin the entire blame for the GFC on liberal do-gooders. What a narrow and hyperbolic argument.

      • kiwimormon

        The Romney’s are investors in Absolute Capital Returns which made a $174m profit on short sale stocks. Of course companies and investors gamble on company failures – always have done.

      • Jeff

        My response to this will have to wait a few days due to having business colleagues in town all day and evening tomorrow

        • kiwimormon

          I’m moving on now. I’ve got gay marriage to write about.

      • Jeff

        If you read my post the problem BEGAN with the Community Reinvestment Act – its original passage was relatively benign. It was how it was interpreted by new regulations and then tied to new Clinton administration legislation that became the problem. Proving strict adherence to quotas of lending to applicants with poor credit became a litmus test to the renewal of all banking licenses so thus the lending of money to subprime borrowers became institutionalized across the banking industry. The promoting of subprime loans as safe investments came courtesy of your star witness Franklin Raines’ whose testimony you use as part of your defense. Raines’ tenure as the head of Fannie Mae was an integral part of the market collapse. FM (and sister Freddie Mac) became the premier aggregators of subprime loans and the on selling of the securitized bundles into the wider wholesale bond markets. The entire management system at FM was geared to incentivize the securitization of these loans to the extent that Raines himself was paid $25 million in volume bonuses in his last year at the helm. Over $100m was paid to senior executives because they grew the volume of these loan acquisitions so dramatically. Raines’ activities were so questionable that he eventually had to pay a $15m settlement after a court case brought by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight because of the way he and his executives set in motion distortionary accounting procedures that rorted the system to generate these huge bonuses.

        As for your dig about the Romney’s investment in Absolute Return Capital three comments are relevant. 1 – Financial instruments to hedge losses are perfectly acceptable products and form an integral part of the financial industry. Markets go up and go down – and have done since the dawn of capitalism. Hedge funds rate themselves to pick these trends and so they short AND long sell PUBLICLY traded stocks all the time. These hedge trades are separate from the actual trading of stock and all publicly listed companies know and accept their presence in the marketplace when they list. If you don’t want to be part of this market and feel they exert undue price influence then stay private and don’t list – there’s no law forcing any company to list or float. 2 – ARC was formed in 2004 long after Romney left Bain so he was not using Bain investors’ money when he invested – such investments were made privately. ARC offer a broad range of products usually to investors who use self-directed IRA funds to buy units in an umbrella fund and so the percentage of the Romney’s funds invested in hedging instruments was probably quite small (and in looking at their public returns the Romney’s investments in ARC in total were a mere 5% of their mutual fund). 3 – The Romney’s mutual fund in question is part of their blind trust which means they handed over the money to SOMEONE ELSE who decided to make this dastardly investment but hey we wouldn’t want that the truth get in the way of a good partisan attack!

        These criticisms are always laced with class warfare undertones and, when the facts are laid out, underscore the hollowness of the Democrats’ attacks. Perhaps that’s why the Obama campaign has so little polling success to show from the $100m they spent to ‘take Mitt out’.

  • Jeff

    If you dont give a fat rats then why when you huff and puff about it do you not include the names of prominent Democrats in your condemnation rather than just focus on Romney. Huntsman is a good man, was a pretty good Governor of Utah and a half way decent Ambassador to China but if you think Obama is sell out (by that I’m assuming you mean not left wing and progressive enough) then Huntsman’s platform (at least as espoused for the few months he ran a campaign) was to right of Obama.

    • kiwimormon

      Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! I know exactly where huntsman stood ideologically and the party he stood for and I know he is right of Obama and guess what? I would have supported him because he has more integrity in his big two than both Romney and Obama can put together.

  • Jeff

    Mike and Yvonne Moore took me to a BBQ in Washington DC last summer where I met a wealthy kiwi expat now long time resident in the US who is ….a venture capitalist. We discussed the GOP primary back when I was preferring Gov Rick Perry over Romney. He was a big Huntsman backer and also intimated that Huntsman was a client. Some of his firm’s funds are hedged in ‘exotic’ instruments and I’ll bet some offshore as well. Would Huntman still meet your integrity test were it the case that some of Huntsman’s wealth was invested via this firm in the exact same sorts of places you castigate Romney for?

  • Glenn Thigpen

    Jeff, thanks for your information. There are many like me who have no knowledge of the many financial machinations that the rich use to protect and increase their wealth. But is is evident that just about every rich person uses pretty much the same types of financila maneuvering irregardless political afiliation/ideology. Maybe this is something that needs to be made more public.

    The continued flap over Romney’s tax returns and wealth seem to be the only thing that anyone can come up with against him.


  • Jeff

    It is made public but only when candidates from the right indulge in it. I’m not arguing the morality or otherwise of legitimate tax planning strategies only against the hypocrisy that sees the main stream media investigate in detail and print breathlessly any and every criticism (often without any meaningful fact checking) of wealthy people who tilt to the right (eg the Koch brothers in the US) and give the wealthy who tilt to or back the left (like George Soros) a total pass.

    • kiwimormon

      By all means roast Soros! He’s as grasping as them all.

  • Ritchie

    What evidence do you have to suggest that Romney or anyone who pays a lot of tithing “has the inside running on where his money is spent”? To what extent do you think he has the “inside running”? It sounds plausible from cynical point of view unless you have hard evidence.

    • kiwimormon

      Hey Ritchie, I don’t have any evidence – I said unless he did have the inside running it would make Chaffetz’s statement ludicrous. I really hope its not the case!

      • Ritchie

        Gotcha. I see what you are saying now.

  • Ritchie

    I have no “hard evidence” myself but I don’t think this is about tithing at all. He just doesn’t want to inflame the masses about how much money he makes which we already know is a lot. Romney has made a calculated decision that those who really care about his tax returns won’t vote for him anyway. I think he made a mistake in releasing only a few years and saying that is all the public is getting. He should have released at least eight years or simply released none.

  • Karen Pillow

    Personally, I agree with your take on Romney. Im supporting President Obama. If I had my way, every obstructionist Republican who has refused to compromise would be voted out of office. I’m still a registered as a Republican, but I am disgusted and discouraged by the deliberate sabatogue of the president.

    • Ritchie

      Obstructionism kind of goes both ways and it is unfortunate that politicians play politics at the expense of doing the right thing.

    • kiwimormon

      What is an obstructionist Republican. Is that a tea party Republican?

      • Ritchie

        They could be the same. Basically they are Republicans in Congress who block Obama’s legislation simply because it is Obama’s and not for legislation itself. Obama is playing into this as an excuse for being unable to pass substantive laws to fix and/or jumpstart the economy. This is the usual modis operandi for the opposing party, yet Clinton and Reagan were able to overcome it and get their agenda through Congress. It is debatable if the Republicans have been opposing the president more than opposing parties in the past.

        • Gina Colvin

          I see! I think partisan politics in the US as become hyperbolic over recent terms. What has Obama done differently than Clinton and Reagan in Congress to warrant this kind of resistance?

  • Michael

    A very thoughtful essay by Ms Colvin. My regular, but peripheral, association with Mr. Romney over a couple years in routine Church circles around 2000 squares pretty well with the sense of entitlement she describes. Our term for the small privileged class of members, that includes the Romneys, was “Royals”. Most Mormons never brush up against them or their moneyed (1%) friends in the Church, so the classism issue is never really acknowledged. Raising it would likely have seemed impolite or brought condemnation for covetousness. But the effects were hard to ignore.

  • Don Harryman

    I think Harry Reid’s contention that Romney didn’t pay his taxes is right on….we will never know for sure, but my theory (I have a testimony of it) is that Romney underpaid or didn’t pay his taxes for many years and took advantage of the 2009 tax amnesty to pretty up his portfolio and make himself legal as prep for running for President, thus enabling him to make the claim that he paid all of his taxes (late, and under amnesty arrangements) That explains easily why he only went back as far as 2010 in revealing his taxes. ‘YOU PEOPLE’ as Anne Romney put it didn’t deserve to know more. At any time Romney could have easily laid to rest all speculation, including mine by simply doing what his father started, and releasing 12 years of taxes. He did not, and the rest is history–the American people didn’t trust any of the Mitt Romney’s which were presented, except the one he revealed when he thought no one else but his elitist friends were listening and he displayed his open contempt for the 47 percent including disabled veterans, and retirees living on Social Security who pay no Federal taxes. The Romney post mortem has been fascinating–now we learn from Tagg Romney that his father really didn’t want to be president anyway. Good. The judgment of the American people saw Romney for what he is/was–a haughty elitist who brought nothing more to the race for the White House than his own deluded sense of entitlement. Tagg says his Dad didn’t really want to be President anyway–thankfully he isn’t and never will be.