Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Ticket to Right

A reader asks: “what’s the big deal about the tickets? (Sat.) That was stupid.”

If you mean insightful yet unclear (Rummyvision rocks!) we agree. We’ll clarify.

Willard Mitt was a registered lobbyist for the Salt Lake (Olympic) Organizing Committee. In late 2001, however, Willard turned in his lobbyist card. Reason? His lobbying work was done. So he said.

In January 2002, SLOC was asked to provide free tickets to the widows and orphans of firefighters who died on 9/11. SLOC refused.

A spokeswoman said “We can not sponsor any groups with free tickets. We made a commitment to the public some time ago that no tickets would be given away.”

'No tickets would be given away.'

A SLOC spokesman confirmed that no one was getting free tickets, not even the Legislature. “If we offered tickets to the Legislature – if we offered, say, 104 Opening Ceremony tickets to them – we would be subject to severe criticism. Mitt has taken the high road on everything we do.”

'On everything we do.'

However, in January, Willard Mitt told Senate President Al Mansell that he would provide free tickets to (a spokeswoman explained) “thank the officials and others who had helped make (the Games) a success.”

'Thank the officials …' (Stop that already!)

This smells like a quid pro something.

SLOC ended up giving 135 free tickets to state legislators and officials: 100 free tickets to the Winter Games closing ceremony valued at $885 apiece; 24 Paralympic Opening Ceremony tickets, valued at $100 apiece; and 11 tickets to the Paralympic Closing Ceremony, valued at $50 apiece.

The widows and orphans got to watch the Games on TV.

But that’s not the best part.

Utah state law says that any lobbyist or organization that gives a legislator a gift exceeding $50 must file an ethics report, which neither Romney nor SLOC ever filed. Ethics personnel said that SLOC had violated Utah ethics law.

But Romney skated. Why? Because …when Willard Mitt handed out the free tickets, he was no longer a lobbyist. Remember, the wily one had cancelled his lobbyist registration just weeks before.

Survey says … Loophole!

This from a (fraud) governor who wants to ‘clarify’ Massachusetts’ ethics laws by loosening restrictions on executive staff. And who says that legislators shouldn’t be able to pay full price for Red Sox playoff tickets.

Romney ran for the wrong job. He should have been the bench coach for the New York Yankees.

(sources: Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2002; Salt Lake Tribune, 4/11/2002; Boston Globe, 4/4/2002; BostonGlobe, 4/12/2002)


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