Louisiana win steels re­solve of San­to­rum to stay in race

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

Fresh off a big win in Satur­day’s Louisiana pri­mary, Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hopeful Rick San­to­rum on Sun­day ham­mered front-run­ner Mitt Rom­ney by paint­ing him as “the worst can­di­date” the party could put up against Pres­i­dent Obama.

“We want some­one who can win, some­one who can go up against Obama and draw a clear con­trast,” the for­mer se­na­tor from Penn­syl­va­nia said dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion.”

“You’ve got some­one here who can re­late to the vot­ers,” Mr. San­to­rum said.

With all the precincts counted, Mr. San­to­rum gar­nered 49 per­cent of the vote among Louisiana Repub­li­cans to 26.7 per­cent for Mr. Rom­ney. For­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich of Ge­or­gia was at 15.9 per­cent, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had 6.1 per­cent.

The vic­tory is not ex­pected to dra­mat­i­cally shake up the chase to­ward the 1,144 del­e­gates needed to win the nom­i­na­tion, but it could give Mr. San­to­rum some cover from the grow­ing cho­rus of Repub­li­cans who say it is time for the party to co­a­lesce around Mr. Rom­ney, a for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor.

More high-pro­file Repub­li­cans, such as Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina, said Sun­day that it’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly clear that Mr. Rom­ney will be the party’s nom­i­nee. Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis­con­sin Re­pub­li­can, said on “Fox News Sun­day” that the GOP would ben­e­fit from unit­ing be­hind Mr. Rom­ney sooner rather than later.

Those calls have had lit­tle ef­fect on Mr. San­to­rum. He is mount­ing an­other stand in Wis­con­sin, which votes on April 3, along with the Dis­trict of Columbia and Mary­land.

With its sub­stan­tial del­e­gate lead and fundrais­ing edge, the Rom­ney cam­paign, al­ready run­ning ads in Wis­con­sin, has be­gun to paint Mr. San­to­rum as a des­per­ate man who is un­will­ing or un­able to see that the end has ar­rived.

“Rick San­to­rum is like a foot­ball team cel­e­brat­ing a field goal when they are los­ing by seven touch­downs with less than a minute left in the game,” said Rom­ney spokesman Ryan Wil­liams.

The San­to­rum team, how­ever, likes its chances if given a one-on-one matchup.

“This race has clearly got­ten down to two can­di­dates that can win the nom­i­na­tion,” Mr. San­to­rum said while cam­paign­ing in Wis­con­sin over the week­end. “I’d love to have a one-onone de­bate.”

That de­sire for a San­to­rum ver­sus Rom­ney bat­tle could boost calls for Mr. Gin­grich to step aside. The out­come in Louisiana is sure to re­new ques­tions about Mr. Gin­grich’s ar­gu­ment for stay­ing in the race, which at this point es­sen­tially has de­volved into an ef­fort to block Mr. Rom­ney from col­lect­ing the magic num­ber of 1,144 del­e­gates needed to win the nom­i­na­tion out­right be­fore the Re­pub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Tampa, Fla., late this sum­mer.

Mr. Gin­grich won the South Carolina pri­mary in Jan­uary. Since then, his cam­paign’s only true bright spot was his ex­pected vic­tory ear­lier this month in Ge­or­gia, which he rep­re­sented in Congress for 20 years. De­spite his string of poor per­for­mances, the for­mer speaker ap­pears to have no in­ten­tion of ex­it­ing the race be­fore the con­ven­tion.

“This is clearly still an open race,” he said Satur­day. “So, on be­half of the more than 176,000 Amer­i­cans who have do­nated to Newt 2012, I will carry our so­lu­tion-ori­ented cam­paign to Tampa.”

While the Louisiana win was a coup for Mr. San­to­rum from a mo­men­tum stand­point, it does lit­tle to close the del­e­gate gap. Only 20 del­e­gates were up for grabs in the elec­tion, and 26 are sched­uled to be doled out at a later date.

With Satur­day’s re­sults, Mr. Rom­ney now has 568 del­e­gates — 295 del­e­gates more than Mr. San­to­rum’s 273. Mr. Gin­grich has 135, and Mr. Paul has 50, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates by the As­so­ci­ated Press.

Mr. San­to­rum, how­ever, called those fig­ures “bad math” on Sun­day, and said he strongly dis­agrees with the es­ti­mated del­e­gate to­tals that are be­ing widely re­ported.

He also is call­ing at­ten­tion once again to what is of­ten viewed as Mr. Rom­ney’s big­gest weak­ness — his sup­port of a gov­ern­ment health care sys­tem in Mas­sachusetts, a pro­gram that the ad­min­is­tra­tion used as a model for Mr. Obama’s health care law.

“Mitt Rom­ney is the god­fa­ther of our health care plan,” David Plouffe, Obama se­nior ad­viser, said dur­ing Sun­day’s “Meet the Press” talk show. into a let­ter agree­ment to pay more than $1 mil­lion per year to­ward the Dis­trict’s im­mu­niza­tion pro­gram, school sys­tem and what doc­u­ments de­scribe as sev­eral other not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The Washington Times has ob­tained a list of the not-for-profit re­cip­i­ents dur­ing a two-year span that shows much of the cash went to the Na­tional Coun­cil of Ne­gro Women, which Mr. Thompson has long sup­ported. The coun­cil also is a client of his ac­count­ing firm, Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & As­so­ciates. The firm has pre­pared the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice re­turns and au­dited the group.

While there are no in­di­ca­tions that the money was mis­han­dled, the sub­stan­tial pay­out to an or­ga­ni­za­tion with ties to Mr. Thompson’s firm raises ques­tions about why the Dis­trict left it to Mr. Thompson and his busi­nesses to de­cide where and how much money would go to var­i­ous D.C. non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions pur­suant to a le­gal set­tle­ment.

Ted Gest, a spokesman for the D.C. Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral, said Mr. Thompson has com­plied with all terms of the le­gal set­tle­ment. He de­clined to com­ment on the pay­ments or on the method used to se­lect non­profit groups for fund­ing.

Un­der the set­tle­ment, there was no re­quire­ment re­gard­ing the amounts paid out to each non­profit group or which or­ga­ni­za­tions re­ceived money, The Times has learned.

An at­tor­ney for Mr. Thompson de­clined to com­ment, and phone calls in re­cent weeks to the Na­tional Coun­cil of Ne­gro Women were not re­turned.

It’s un­clear how much, if any­thing, Mr. Thompson’s firm re­ceives from its work for the or­ga­ni­za­tion. But Mr. Thompson’s firm has made prom­i­nent men­tion of the en­gage­ment in mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als.

A state­ment of ca­pa­bil­i­ties posted on the ac­count­ing firm’s web­site, for in­stance, men­tions the coun­cil at least six times while not­ing that it has con­ducted the coun­cil’s an­nual fi­nan­cial and com­pli­ance au­dit since 1985. In ad­di­tion, the coun­cil’s state­ment to the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice shows that Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & As­so­ciates for years has pre­pared its an­nual fi­nan­cial state­ment to the IRS.

Un­der the le­gal set­tle­ment, the funds paid by Mr. Thompson or his busi­nesses were to be used for com­mu­nity ser­vices or events to ed­u­cate D.C. res­i­dents about health care is­sues, such as HIV/AIDS and asthma.

On the coun­cil’s web­site, D.C. Char­tered Health Plan is listed as a spon­sor of the coun­cil’s an­nual Black Fam­ily Re­union event.

In 2009 and 2010, the over­all non­profit pay­ments to­taled $702,000 for the two years, with the Na­tional Coun­cil of Ne­gro Women re­ceiv­ing a lit­tle more than $290,000 com­bined. The next high­est re­cip­i­ent was listed as Ana­cos­tia Com­mu­nity Fit­ness, which in­cluded $213,000 in fund­ing for fit­ness and holis­tic well­ness pro­grams in Wards 6, 7 and 8, records show.

By com­par­i­son, the Whit­manWalker Clinic, which spe­cial­izes is HIV/AIDS treat­ment and preven­tion, re­ceived $25,000 in 2009 and was not among the more than a dozen 2010 re­cip­i­ents listed in city records.

Other 2009 re­cip­i­ents in­cluded the Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal Foun­da­tion, $15,000; the D.C. Cham­ber of Com­merce, $20,000; the Howard Univer­sity Col­lege of Medicine, $15,000; and the Prov­i­dence Hospi­tal Foun­da­tion, $15,000.

In 2010, the Duke Elling­ton School of the Arts re­ceived $50,000 while other groups, such as the D.C. Pri­mary Care As­so­ci­a­tion and Mary’s Cen­ter, re­ceived smaller pay­ments rang­ing from $500 to $15,000, records show.

Un­der the agree­ment, which is out­lined in re­ports filed by D.C. Char­tered Health Plan to city in­sur­ance reg­u­la­tors, the pay­outs are sub­ject to sev­eral con­di­tions, in­clud­ing the in­sur­ance plan and its par­ent com­pany, Thomp­sonowned D.C. Health­care Sys­tems, be­ing able to main­tain nor­mal op­er­a­tions.

The dis­clo­sure also says that if the Dis­trict fails to use the funds as re­quired, if the D.C. gov­ern­ment is un­able to ac­count for re­lated ex­pen­di­tures, or if Char­tered or its Thompson-owned par­ent com­pany suf­fers ad­verse fi­nan­cial cir­cum­stances, the com­mit­ments be­come void or are sub­ject to be­ing rene­go­ti­ated.

While D.C. Char­tered Health Plan is the city’s big­gest Med­i­caid contractor, hold­ing a con­tract worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars per year, it’s un­clear whether an on­go­ing fed­eral cam­paign fi­nance in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mr. Thompson’s fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties for city politi­cians will af­fect the com­pany’s abil­ity to win city con­tracts.


Rick San­to­rum gets ready to knock down some pins at a bowl­ing al­ley in Fond du Lac, Wis., on Sun­day. Mr. San­to­rum scored a big win in Louisiana on Satur­day and moved on to Wis­con­sin in ad­vance of the April 3 pri­mary there.

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