Mojo - September 2012

Who Was at Romney's "47 Percent" Fundraiser?

| Tue Sep. 18, 2012 7:01 AM EDT
Marc Leder, left, hosted a fundraiser for Mitt Romney at his Boca Raton home on May 17, 2012.

Update: Following the release of the full "47 percent" transcript, we've ID'd some more potential donors. See below.

As Mother Jones reported yesterday, speaking at a private fundraiser in Florida this May, Mitt Romney expressed his disdain for "the 47 percent" of Americans who are "dependent upon government," "believe that they are victims," and "will vote for the president no matter what." The event was held at the Boca Raton home of private equity manager Marc Leder, who has donated $225,000 to the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future and $63,330 to the Romney Victory PAC. Employees of his firm, Sun Capital Partners, have given more than $970,000 to the Romney campaign and its related PACs in this election cycle (including donations from spouses). 

So who else was on hand for Romney's "off the cuff" remarks at Leder's spread on May 17? According to the TC Palm, 150 people attended the $50,000-per-plate event. The guest list hasn't been made public, but some possible attendees can be picked out of campaign finance records.

A search for Florida-based donors brings up more than 30 people who gave $50,000 to the Romney Victory PAC between May 1 and May 17:

Name Occupation Company City
Dixie Arthur Accountant ASAP Capital Partners Tampa
Thomas D. Arthur Retired   Tampa
Robert M. Beall Chairman Beall's Inc Bradenton
Douglas F. Berman Fund Manager HIG Capital Weston
Timothy M. Bryan Chairman & CEO Galaxe Solutions Key Biscayne
Mitchel A. Burns Chairman Emeritus Ryder System Miami
Christopher Cline Executive Foresight Management Palm Beach Gardens
Richard A. Corbett Real Estate Developer Concorde Companies Tampa
Jeffrey Feingold CEO McNa Dental Plans Delray Beach
James P. Gills Ophthalmologist St Luke's Cataract & Laser Institute Tarpon Springs
F. Phillip Handy CEO Strategic Industries Winter Park
Michael Hechberger COO Infinity Sales Group Boca Raton
Gabe Hoffman Managing Member Of General Partner Cardens Capital Miami Beach
Manuel Kadre Attorney Manuel Kadre Pa Coral Gables
Jonathan I. Kislak Venture Capital Antares Capital Miami Shores
Rafael Kravec Retired   Bal Harbour
Sidney W. Lassen Business Executive Sizeler Realty Palm Beach
Lisa J. Leder Homemaker [Marc Leder's ex-wife]   Boca Raton
E. Barry Mansur Investments Mansur Realty Captiva
Henry Mccance Venture Capital Greylock Partners Lake Wales
Dr. Roger Medel Physician Mednax Inc Davie
Manuel Medina CEO & President Medina Capital Partners Miami
Thomas Neff Chairman Spencer Stuart North Palm Beach
William D. Perez Senior Consultant Greenhill & Co Naples
Randal L. Ringhaver Chairman & President Ring Power Corp Saint Augustine
Raul Rodriguez CEO Clinical Medical Services Miami Lakes
Brian D. Schwartz Private Equity HIG Capital Fort Lauderdale
John H. Sykes Self-Employed Sykes Enterprises Tampa
Ellen Teresi Publishing Executive Paisano Publications Fort Lauderdale
Joseph Teresi Publisher/CEO Paisano Publications Fort Lauderdale
Mrs. Anthony Traviesa Venture Capital V3 Partners Llp Tampa
Robert Zangrillo Founder Dragon Global Management Miami Beach

Source: Sunlight Foundation Influence Explorer

A broader search for big Florida donors suggests some more contenders. For example, Bill Bain, the retired founder of Bain & Company and Bain Capital, who lives in Naples, gave $50,000 to the Romney campaign PAC on April 25, less than a month before the fundraiser. Might he have driven across the state to hear Romney talk in Boca Raton? Perhaps, but the Leder event was just one of several fundraising events Romney attended in Florida in this time period, including another in Boca the same day.

We'll update this post as we try to confirm these and any additional names.

Update: The complete transcript of Romney's remarks provides additional clues about who was there. A few names are mentioned, starting with one "Hilary":

Romney: And by the way, I am serious about the food. Bring that…clear the place, but Hilary has to eat her beets. [Audience laughs.]

Was this directed at Hilary Ross, a Palm Beach resident who gave $75,800 to the Romney Victory PAC two days before the event? (Her husband Wilbur gave the same amount on the same day and had previously given $50,000 in late April.) Or was it Hillary Krouse, a Boca Raton resident who gave $73,300 two days earlier? She's the wife of Rodger Krouse, the business partner of the event's host, Sun Capital Partners chief executive Marc Leder.

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Corn on MSNBC: Romney Caught on Tape

Mon Sep. 17, 2012 11:43 PM EDT

David Corn joined Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball to discuss his major story revealing secret video of Mitt Romney telling a small group of wealthy donors what he really thinks of Obama donors. Joan Walsh and Andrea Mitchell also discuss the apparent disdain that Romney shows for half of America (technically, 47 percent) in the video.

Corn also appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show where he and Rachel break down the videos in detail and reveal the name of the sex party-loving hedge fund manager who hosted the Boca Raton fundraiser where the video was recorded.

David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter.

Romney "47 Percent" Fundraiser Host: Hedge Fund Manager Who Likes Sex Parties

| Mon Sep. 17, 2012 8:48 PM EDT
Marc Leder, left, hosted a fundraiser for Mitt Romney at his Boca Raton home on May 17, 2012.

When Mitt Romney at a private fundraiser dismissed all Barack Obama voters as moochers and victims—showing disdain for nearly half of the American electorate—he was speaking at the home of controversial private equity manager Marc Leder in Boca Raton on May 17, 2012. (It was Romney's second fundraising event in Boca that day.) This is evident from references made by Romney within the full video recording of the event that has been reviewed by Mother Jones.

When Mother Jones first disclosed secret video of Romney's remarks, we were obliged to not reveal details regarding the time and place of the event. That restriction has been lifted, as the story has garnered attention throughout the media.

At the fundraiser, Romney was asked how he could win in November, and he replied:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax…[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Romney made those remarks before donors who had paid $50,000 a plate to attend the dinner at Leder's swanky house.

Leder has long been a fan of Romney. In January, the New York Times reported:

Years ago, a visit to Mr. Romney's investment firm inspired Mr. Leder to get into private equity in the first place. Mr. Romney was an early investor in some of the deals done by Mr. Leder's investment company, Sun Capital, which today oversees about $8 billion in equity.

The paper noted that Leder is something of a poster boy for private equity—and not in a good way:

Mr. Leder personifies the debates now swirling around this lucrative corner of finance. To his critics, he represents everything that's wrong with this setup. In recent years, a large number of the companies that Sun Capital has acquired have run into serious trouble, eliminated jobs or both. Since 2008, some 25 of its companies—roughly one of every five it owns—have filed for bankruptcy. Among the losers was Friendly's, the restaurant chain known for its Jim Dandy sundaes and Fribble shakes. (Sun Capital was accused by a federal agency of pushing Friendly's into bankruptcy last year to avoid paying pensions to the chain's employees; Sun disputes that contention.) Another company that sank into bankruptcy was Real Mex, owner of the Chevy's restaurant chain. In that case, Mr. Leder lost money for his investors not once, but twice.

But Leder does differ from Romney in one significant fashion: how he likes to have a certain sort of fun. In August 2011, the New York Post reported,

It was as if the Playboy Mansion met the East EBond at a wild party at private-equity titan Marc Leder's Bridgehampton estate, where guests cavorted nude in the pool and performed sex acts, scantily dressed Russians danced on platforms and men twirled lit torches to a booming techno beat. The divorced Sun Capital Partners honcho rented a sprawling beachfront mansion on Surf Side Road for $500,000 for the month of July. Leder's weekly Friday and Saturday night parties have become the talk of the Hamptons—and he ended them in style last weekend with his wildest bash yet. Russell Simmons and ex-wife Kimora Lee attended a more subdued party thrown by Leder—who's an event chair for Simmons' Art For Life charity—on July 29 together. But the revelry hit a frenzied point the next day before midnight when a male guest described as a "chubby white meathead" and a "tanned" female guest stripped and hopped into the pool naked.

At Romney's fundraiser at Leder's Boca Raton home, not a single sex act was recorded.

Romney Reacts to 47 Percent Video, Stands By Remarks

| Mon Sep. 17, 2012 5:52 PM EDT

On Monday, my colleague David Corn published exclusive video of remarks Mitt Romney made at a closed-door fundraiser for big-money donors, in which the GOP presidential nominee declared that 47 percent of Americans—that is, those who support President Obama—are "dependent upon government" and "believe that they are victims." (And, according to Romney, Obama backers don't pay income taxes either.) Now, the Obama campaign is looking to turn those statements into a major campaign issue. Here's the statement from campaign manager Jim Messina that was emailed to reporters on Monday afternoon:

"It's shocking that a candidate for President of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as 'victims,' entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take 'personal responsibility' for their lives. It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation."

It was also blasted out to Obama's 19 million Twitter followers. For Romney, this may be only the beginning of his problems: more clips from this private fundraiser are coming soon.

Update: And here's the Romney campaign's statement, from spokeswoman Gail Gitcho:

Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy. As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work. Mitt Romney’s plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs.

Update II, 9/17, 10:23 p.m.: In a rare and hastily scheduled press conference in Orange County on Monday night, Romney stood by his remarks. "This is the same message I give to people," Romney said of his dig at the 47 percent. His only failing, he said, was in the delivery. "It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way," Romney said. "I'm speaking off the cuff in response to a question and, I'm sure I can say it more clearly"

Romney added, "I hope the person who has the video would put out the full video."

Watch:

See the full remarks below:

Anti-Islam Filmmaker Becomes a Martyr to the Right

| Mon Sep. 17, 2012 12:02 PM EDT

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who appears to be behind the amateurish anti-Islam film that sparked violent protests at Western embassies in Arab and Muslim countries around the world last week, doesn't exactly have a family-friendly background. His criminal record includes financial fraud and drug convictions. But spurred on by conservative web king Matt Drudge, conservatives have turned Nakoula into a martyr for free speech.

As Roy Edroso documents in the Village Voice, conservatives are now claiming that Nakoula's recent arrest for potentially violating the terms of his probation is proof the Obama administration is caving to violent protests around the world. Popular conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds demanded Obama resign for "sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration[.]" The "brownshirts" are the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, whom Reynolds is comparing to militia of the Nazi Party in Germany. Powerline blogger Scott Johnson declared "I am Nakoula Basseley Nakoula," (a reference to the anti-Red Scare film Spartacus). Pajamas Media blogger Roger Simon wrote "Hillary Clinton, I insist that you have me arrested. I am thinking of making a movie about Mohammed."

Speakers at the annual Values Voters gathering of mostly Christian religious conservatives on Saturday were drawing similar conclusions. "The big headline this morning is 'federal authorities investigate Christian filmmaker because of this film," Fox News commentator Todd Starnes told attendees during a panel on religious freedom. "Where are the federal investigations into shows like South Park which has denigrated all faiths?" During another Values Voters panel, titled "Islam 101," the Christian Broadcast Networks' Eric Stalkelbeck warned that "things continue the way they’re going with the infringement on free speech, this panel we’re having today, you might not have it in a few years. We might get lead out in cuffs."

The common claim here is that criticism of Islam is somehow becoming illegal. But very few of Nakoula's conservative fans note that he is being investigated not because he made a film critical of Islam but rather because his production of the movie under the pseudonym "Sam Bacile" may have violated the terms of his probation. After being convicted of bank fraud in 2010, Nakoula was "banned from using computers or the Internet or using false identities as part of his sentence." Starnes and Stalkelbeck conventiently omitted this fact from their jeremiads about persecution of Christians. Reynolds mentions it in passing and dismisses it as pretext. Johnson and Simon don't mention it at all.

Occupy II: What's Happening Now in Lower Manhattan

| Mon Sep. 17, 2012 11:05 AM EDT

Twelve months after they slept, ate, and occasionally got arrested with the demonstrators, our team of journalists has returned to Lower Manhattan to follow #s17 protesters observing the birthday of Occupy Wall Street. Below is our Storify of MJ street reporting, plus updates from our friends and colleagues across the internets (please be patient: The Storify may take a few seconds to load):

 

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 17, 2012

Mon Sep. 17, 2012 10:37 AM EDT

A U.S. Soldier looks out over Khas Uruzgan district, Afghanistan, from the door of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter Aug. 29, 2012. DoD photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class James Ginther.

365 Days of Occupy Wall Street—an Anniversary Timeline

Mon Sep. 17, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

One year ago today, a group of protesters set up camp in Zuccotti Park, a privately owned parcel in New York City, in a protest against America's political and financial system. The protest grew, and spread to other cities around the nation—overseas as well. In the end, it would profoundly affect the national zeitgeist, bringing to the fore the plight of the middle class, the excesses of capitalism, and the stunning growth in the gap between the very rich and the rest of us (as summed up by these viral charts compiled by MoJo senior editor Dave Gilson). Mother Jones staffers and fellows (most notably Josh Harkinson, Andy Kroll, Gavin Aronsen, and James West) were chronicling the excitement from early on. Here are some of the highlights of a movement that—while it was never quite able to revive itself after the police and winter weather drove protesters inside—has had a lasting impact on the nation. (Also read Harkinson's new piece today, in which he tracks down five people he met at Zuccotti Park to see where they're at now.)

Even Evangelicals Sorta Kinda Like Obamacare Now

| Fri Sep. 14, 2012 6:13 PM EDT

Attendees at this year's Values Voter Summit, the annual DC conference sponsored by the evangelical Family Research Council, have been among the most fervent opponents of President Obama's health care reform law. Some of the groups currently suing the Department of Health and Human Services over the law's requirement that health insurers cover contraception are on hand as exhibitors and panel discussion members. But even here, many attendees I interviewed Friday had to admit that now that the law had survived the Supreme Court and was starting to take effect, there were parts of Obamacare they not only liked, but which had already helped family members or people they knew.

Wes Cantrell, visiting from Atlanta, is no fan of Obamacare. He thinks it should mostly be repealed. Except for the part that's allowing his his grandson to stay on his parents' insurance plan while he's in college. "That's good," he concedes. Cantrell also admits that the ban on denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions ought to be spared. I didn't get a chance to explain that keeping the bit about preexisting conditions would be impossible without the individual mandate (the law's requirement that people buy health insurance or pay a fine), which will force lots of young healthy people into the system to subsidize the sicker people.

Another attendee, a doctor from Maryland who refused to give his name, told me that he had a sibling who got care for a very serious illness thanks to the new law. "That's a positive thing," he admitted. Even so, like many people I spoke with, for the doctor, the benefits still didn't outweigh what they see as the law's primary flaw: the mandatory contraception coverage. "I object to the burden imposed on institutions to provide contraception for free," the doctor said.

In the hotel hallway, I ran into a group of recent college graduates interning for the Family Research Council and asked them whether any of them were still on their parents' insurance plans. The horrified looks on their faces suggested that except for the British guy, every single one of them was getting insurance from their folks—the major benefit so far of Obamacare, which allows young people to stay on their parents' plans until the age of 26. They refused to talk about it and tried to pawn me off on some high school kids coming down the stairs.

What was perhaps most remarkable about the impact of Obamacare on its most fervent opponents was how little impact it had had on them. The most controversial part of the law, the individual mandate and the requirements for businesses to provide coverage, haven't kicked in yet, so it's still too early to say. But I didn't talk to a single person at the summit who had been enslaved by the law, as opponents so often claimed would be the result. Most wouldn't even be affected by the mandate or the business requirement. Obviously it's not a very scientific sample. Values Voters skew old; they don't need birth control. Many of the people I spoke with were already getting their health care from the government, including some young people from Liberty University who had military health coverage. (One guy from Liberty U. I spoke with was convinced that Obamacare was taking money out of his paycheck every month, until informed by a colleague that those withholdings were for Medicare.)

But for all of the angry freakouts by conservatives who have claimed that Obamacare was going to be the end of the world as they knew it and the triumph of socialism over freedom, not a single person I spoke with could offer up concrete evidence that Obamacare was now or would ever be ruining their lives. Bruce Jones, from Liverpool, NY, who is retired from the military and thus gets generous health benefits from the government, conceded that it might be hard for people to point to anything specific about the law that might be hurting them. The opposition, he says, "it's more ideological now than anything real." 

Obama Legal Theory on Targeted Killing Cribbed From Clarence Thomas?

| Fri Sep. 14, 2012 4:24 PM EDT

According to a legal analysis by the Congressional Research Service, the Obama administration's legal reasoning for the form of "due process" required to target and kill a US citizen suspected of terrorism may have been inspired by an unlikely source: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech last March outlining the administration's legal rationale for when the US is justified in killing its own citizens without charge or trial. "'Due process' and 'judicial process' are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security," Holder said at the time. "The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process."

Well that legal argument, according to the CRS report first obtained by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News, "seem[s] to conform more with Justice Thomas’s dissenting opinion in Hamdi, in which Justice Thomas argued that in the context of wartime detention for non-punitive purposes, 'due process requires nothing more than a good-faith executive determination.'" Hamdi was the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the US government had the authority to detain American citizens captured fighting for the enemy on foreign battlefields, but that those captured citizens still had the right to challenge their detention. The administration, while publicly defending its targeted killing program, has thus far refused to share the legal memo that justified targeting American citizens suspected of terrorism with the public or even members of Congress.

In 2008, while running for president, Barack Obama told an audience at Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California that "I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas... I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the Constitution." Well, maybe he doesn't profoundly disagree with all of his interpretations.

Hat Tip: The CRS report was also flagged by Andrea Stone at Huffington Post.