Rom­ney ral­lies for ‘eco­nomic free­dom’

Turns rhetoric back on Obama

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

CHICAGO | Mitt Rom­ney fo­cused his at­tacks Mon­day on Pres­i­dent Obama as he cam­paigned ahead of the Illi­nois pri­mary, while his chief ri­val for the GOP nom­i­na­tion — Rick San­to­rum — blasted the for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor’s health care record and pre­dicted that del­e­gates will re­ject him if the race lasts un­til this sum­mer’s con­ven­tion.

Fresh off adding to his sub­stan­tial del­e­gate lead with a vic­tory this week­end in Puerto Rico’s pri­mary, Mr. Rom­ney met with po­ten­tial sup­port­ers at a diner in the state cap­i­tal of Springfield and then de­liv­ered an eco­nomic speech at the Univer­sity of Chicago, where he said Mr. Obama has “at­tacked the cor­ner­stone of Amer­i­can pros­per­ity: our eco­nomic free­dom.”

“The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s as­sault on our eco­nomic free­dom is the prin­ci­pal rea­son why the re­cov­ery has been so tepid — why it couldn’t meet their pro­jec­tions, let alone our ex­pec­ta­tions,” Mr. Rom­ney said

au­thor­i­ties this month, prompt­ing city law­mak­ers to scour do­na­tions re­ceived from Mr. Thompson and his busi­nesses and from peo­ple and en­ti­ties that gave max­i­mum amounts on the same days.

Over­all, Los An­ge­les donors have given at least $100,000 to D.C. can­di­dates since 2008, with many of the big­gest donors giv­ing on the same day to the same can­di­date and in the same amount as Mr. Thompson, his em­ploy­ees or busi­nesses, records show.

Mr. Orange, for in­stance, re­ceived more than two dozen credit card do­na­tions on March 10, 2011, for $1,000 each, the max­i­mum al­lowed in an at­large race.

The credit card do­na­tions came from a var­ied lot of sources, rang­ing from Mr. Spann to a ho­tel concierge in Mi­ami to an NFL player in Seat­tle and em­ploy­ees at Mr. Thompson’s health care and ac­count­ing firms.

Few of the Cal­i­for­nia donors would speak about why they showed such gen­eros­ity for a can­di­date so far away, but Mr. Spann said the money listed on D.C. cam­paign dis­clo­sures came from him. He said his in­ter­est in D.C. pol­i­tics was sim­ple, not­ing that he lived in the area and one day plans to move back.

“I’m care­ful to fol­low the law,” he said.

He said he knew Mr. Thompson as a fundraiser but he does not have a busi­ness re­la­tion­ship with him. City cam­paign fi­nance records show Mr. Spann and his com­pany have do­nated about $15,000 to city can­di­dates over the years.

Mr. Spann de­clined to say whether he or his com­pany had re­ceived a sub­poena in con­nec­tion with the on­go­ing fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mr. Thompson and his fundrais­ing.

Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties have filed sub­poe­nas to ex­am­ine sev­eral law­mak­ers’ cam­paign records re­lat­ing to Mr. Thompson. The Washington Times also re­ported Mon­day that fed­eral au­thor­i­ties had turned their at­ten­tion to a Sil­ver Spring woman, Au­drey Al­bert, who has do­nated in ways sim­i­lar to those of Mr. Thompson and his com­pa­nies.

She is listed as prin­ci­pal of a com­pany called Rapid Trans Ser­vices, which doesn’t ap­pear to be li­censed to trans­port pas­sen­gers, but which has been a gen­er­ous donor to D.C. can­di­dates of­ten on days when en­ti­ties tied to Mr. Thompson do­nated. Sep­a­rately, D.C. records list Mr. Thompson as pres­i­dent of a de­funct but sim­i­larly named com­pany called Rapid­trans Inc., which re­mained a big cor­po­rate donor even af­ter hav­ing its in­cor­po­ra­tion sta­tus re­voked.

While Mr. Spann con­firmed that he was the source for do­na­tions un­der his name, other Cal­i­for­nia donors weren’t as will­ing to dis­cuss their con­tri­bu­tions.

Mark Withers, who lives in Long Beach, gave $1,000 to Mr. Orange. Ini­tially, he said he hadn’t con­trib­uted any money to the law­maker, adding that he was an­noyed that his name had turned up on con­tri­bu­tion records.

Later, he emailed The Times to say that af­ter check­ing his pa­per­work, he re­al­ized that he had do­nated to Mr. Orange’s cam­paign in New York af­ter all. He did not respond to a re­quest to fur­ther dis­cuss the do­na­tion.

Nei­ther Mr. Orange nor Mr. Thompson’s of­fice re­turned mes­sages, and a woman who an­swered the phone for Mr. Thompson’s at­tor­ney said he was out of town.

Other credit card do­na­tions to Mr. Orange that day came from Ken­nard Cox, who played for the NFL’S Seat­tle Sea­hawks last year.

Bev­erly Hills, Calif., also has been a source of West Coast cash for D.C. law­mak­ers. Mr. Orange’s cam­paign re­ported re­ceiv­ing $1,000 from Thu­mai Ung. Inc., with do­na­tion records list­ing an ad­dress on the 300 block of South Do­heny Drive. Ad­dress list­ings show the ad­dress as the lo­ca­tion for a mail­box rental store.

The same ad­dress is listed for a $2,000 do­na­tion to Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray from a com­pany called Mista Mista LLC, which is reg­is­tered to Ms. Ung. She could not be reached for com­ment.

It’s not il­le­gal for peo­ple and com­pa­nies to give money on the same day to the same can­di­dates and in the same amounts. Nor is it il­le­gal for fundrais­ers such as Mr. Thompson to host fundrais­ers and “bun­dle” con­tri­bu­tions, col­lect them and turn them over to can­di­dates or their cam­paigns.

But Mr. Thompson’s con­tri­bu­tions have raised con­cerns about the use of money or­ders to give to can­di­dates, as well as whether his health care hold­ing com­pany vi­o­lated cor­po­rate cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions.

D.C. law lim­its com­pa­nies and their sub­sidiaries to a sin­gle-con­tri­bu­tion limit when giv­ing to a can­di­date dur­ing an elec­tion cy­cle.

But The Times re­ported last week that cam­paign fil­ings show nu­mer­ous in­stances in which Mr. Thompson’s hold­ing com­pany, D.C. Health­care Sys­tems, and its busi­ness af­fil­i­ates, in­clud­ing D.C. Char­tered Health Plan and Rapid­trans Inc., gave sep­a­rate checks to politi­cians each for the max­i­mum do­na­tion on the same day.

BAR­BARA L. SAL­IS­BURY/THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Michael Day, 4, of Oak­ton gets a tip on­fin­ger-tip ball han­dling from Har­lem Globetrotter Her­bert “Flight Time” Lang on the Key Bridge in Washington on Mon­day. The Glo­be­trot­ters are in town this week to make ap­pear­ances at schools in the D.C. area be­sides per­form­ing at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter in the Dis­trict and Pa­triot Cen­ter at Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity over the week­end.

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