The Daily Beast reports that presumptive Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney held what appears to be a hush-hush, big bucks raising fundraiser at the New York townhouse of a highly controversial billionaire. How hush hush? According to The Daily Beast’s Ben Jacobs, the fundraiser wasn’t on Romney’s schedule and the campaign didn’t respond to his inquiries.
To those in the news biz, that usually means a news source hopes by a nonreponse it’ll make the story die away since it won’t be picked up and can’t get any bigger. Jacobs reports:
Mitt Romney held a high-dollar fundraiser Thursday night at the home of John Paulson, the controversial hedge-fund billionaire who made a fortune shorting the housing market and subprime mortgages in 2007.
Accepting money from someone who is controversial is one thing. Candidates do that all the time. But holding a funderaiser at their own is another. And someone whose identity can then be linked by the opposition to a major catastrophic era and who some say was high profile during it is yet another. This looks like Democratic Party campaign ad fodder. But, even so, a)will the Dems use it b)in the long run do voters really care the way our campaigns now and the impact of the totality of campaign ads and images overall? MORE:
New York grocery billionaire John Catsimatidis told The Daily Beast the fundraiser, at Paulson’s posh townhouse at 9 East 86th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, was a “big-dollar event” for wealthy donors like himself “fighting for the soul of America.”
Fair enough. But then there’s this:
The Romney campaign did not return requests for information about the fundraiser—which was not listed on the candidate’s public schedule. Paulson’s publicist, Armel Leslie, also did not return calls seeking comment.
This means the campaign doesn’t want a lot of publicity about this. And wants the story to die.
A neighbor who witnessed the event from across the street described it to The Daily Beast as a large crowd of “older white people, mostly men,” who started showing up around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Around 8 p.m., sirens started blaring as more and more people started to show. There was security at the door as well as a police car on the street.
The “older white people” is really irrelevant. Older white people have a right to donate and all candidates have a right to and do seek their contributions. The issue here is that there was an attempt to keep this quiet.
But the quiet was literally shattered:
Then things became quiet until the sirens started up at 9:30 p.m. An SUV tried to block 86th Street, but New York drivers characteristically went around it. Then, as the security stood in the street, Romney emerged from the townhouse, “looking tall and neat.” He took off his suit jacket and climbed into the SUV.
The event marks a rather controversial departure for the Romney campaign. Although both Romney and his super PAC have accepted donations from Paulson, this ratchets up the association between the presumptive GOP nominee and the controversial Wall Street billionaire.
And the Dems have started to pounce:
Lis Smith, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, did take advantage of the connection to take a whack at Romney, stating, “It’s not surprising that the people who profited the most from the economic crisis want to elect Mitt Romney. Then again, Paulson is a nice checkbook to get to know in gearing up for a fierce battle this fall. According to the latest numbers from The Center for Responsive Politics, Romney has out-raised President Obama by a four to one margin among donors in hedge funds and private equity. Romney’s campaign has raised $2.48 million in this industry while Obama has collected just under $625,000. He would bring back the failed policies—tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and letting Wall Street write its own rules—that created it in the first place.”
But the issue here is that this was a fundraiser at the home of a controversial figure that no one apparently was supposed to really know about except Romney, his campaign and the donors.
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