GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney touts on his resume that he saved the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. However, according to a source who worked with Romney during that time, the Bain Capital executive did virtually nothing to help salvage an Olympic organizing committee that was initially put on the financial ropes due to “Mormon mafia” malfeasance involving the GOP Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, also a Mormon, and several of his Mormon cronies.
There were charges of bid-rigging by Salt Lake Olympic officials to secure the Games from the International Olympic Committee, which, itself, had been accused by critics of serious bid rigging by its senior officials, including IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. In fact, it was Leavitt who brought Romney to Salt Lake City to serve as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Games.
However, Leavitt was more interested in providing Romney a launching pad from which to restart his political career after Romney’s bruising loss to incumbent Edward Kennedy in the 1994 US Senate race in Massachusetts.
Romney, in addition to taking federal money to bail out Salt Lake City 2002, used his position to exaggerate the poor financial situation of the Olympics in order to later appear as the Games’ savior. Romney had the help of Leavitt and other leading Mormons in Utah to appear as the hero who saved the Games. Romney cleverly used his Winter Games “experience,” coupled with his “turnaround” expertise at Bain Capital, to write a book, Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games, to begin his run for the governorship of Massachusetts and, eventually, the White House.
Romney also bragged that his car had passed by the Pentagon after crossing the 14th Street Bridge just after the Department of Defense headquarters was hit by the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. Romney, supported by his Mormon cronies in Salt Lake, claimed he phoned Olympic officials in Utah while choking on smoke from the burning Pentagon that filled his car. In his book Turnaround, Romney wrote the smoke from the burning Pentagon “smelled like nothing I had ever smelled before. Like war.”
Although many Pentagon workers and local motorists appeared on television recounting what they witnessed, the normally media-hungry Romney never once showed up on local or national television with an eyewitness statement. But, Romney immediately set about to use the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil to reap more federal money for an Olympics that would boost America’s prestige. However, even Utah senator Robert Bennett, a Mormon and a Republican, claimed the Olympic Games had enough federal money and didn’t require additional funds.
9/11 did provide Romney extra security funding. Romney convinced government officials who thought about calling off the Games to hand over an additional $300 million for the Games’ security budget. Most of the money went to Mormon-friendly security contractors or to firms based in Israel.
Romney was to ostensibly “save” the Olympics. In fact, Romney used his “financial alchemy” expertise gained at Bain to hide financial corruption and seek federal money to bail out a failing Olympic Games effort. Leavitt, a health insurance executive who became Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration, serves as a close adviser to Romney and the head of his presumptuous White House Transition Team and is expected to become White House chief of staff in a Romney administration. Leavitt, as someone who has made millions in the private health care industry, strongly opposes Obamacare and will be sure to serve as a Romney administration point man to repeal the new health care law.
American political history has been rife with fake heroes, but the tall tales—such as those of World War II “Tail Gunner” Joe McCarthy and Vietnam “Fighting Leatherneck” Richard Blumenthal—came from alleged feats conducted during military service. Romney has no military service to claim, merely what he considers as “substitute” national service as a Mormon missionary in France during the Vietnam War.
A heroic feat during his Mormon missionary service in France would have never cut it as far an act of bravery or heroism. So, Mitt needed something else to brag about. Saving the 2002 Winter Games from financial ruin and a potential huge embarrassment for a country still reeling from the 9/11 attacks was just the answer. The only problem for Mitt is that nothing he did saved the Games. They would have gone on without him.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2012 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).