Mitt and Newt: All You Need is Cash

Well, since last night’s Republican primary debate on the National Barack Channel turned out to be a snooze-fest, lets talk about something the two front runners have in common, starting with Newt Gingrich:

Newt Gingrich’s consulting firm tonight [last night] released a copy of its 2006 contract with Freddie Mac (FMCC), which covers just one year of his multiple years of service and documents only $300,000 of the $1.6 million he received from the mortgage company.

The Republican hopeful’s first contract, spanning 1999 to 2002 and worth between $1 million and $1.2 million, according to two people familiar with the agreement, wasn’t released because officials at the Center for Health Transformation can’t find it, said Susan Meyers, a center spokeswoman who also works for the Gingrich campaign. The 2006 contract also applied to 2007, she said, which means the total value of that contract was $600,000.

“We’re not even sure we signed anything for 2007,” said Meyers.

Gingrich and his allies have come under increasing pressure from chief rival Mitt Romney to release the records, and his association with Freddie Mac is emerging as major theme in the race. Many Republicans have criticized Freddie Mac because the company invested in risky mortgages and then required billions of dollars in taxpayer money for a bailout after the housing market meltdown. Since September 2008, Freddie Mac and sister company Fannie Mae, both now operating under U.S. conservatorship, have cost a total $153 billion in taxpayer aid.

“Why isn’t Speaker Gingrich disclosing the full extent of his relationship with Freddie Mac?” said Brian Jones, a Romney spokesman for the campaign. “Ultimately this disclosure raises more questions than it actually does answer.”

Romney may also be vulnerable on the issue. His most recent financial-disclosure report, which he filed in August 2011, shows he had a financial interest in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. (FNMA)

The disclosure said he held assets in both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae valued at between $100,000 to $250,000. He received between $5,001 and $15,000 in interest income from his Freddie Mac assets and another $5,001 to $15,000 in interest income from his Fannie Mae assets.

That’s not all.  Andrew Kacynski  reports that

A Mitt Romney campaign fundraiser has previously served as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae records show. Drew Maloney, who fundraised for Romney during both his 2008 and 2012 campaigns lobbied for Fannie Mae from 2004-2008.

According to a 2011 article by Roll Call, Maloney also coordinated early efforts by the Romney campaign to round up endorsements from Members of Congress in early 2011.

A June 29th Romney for President fundraiser, hosted at the DLA Piper in Washington DC, features Maloney as a member of the host committee. Tickets for that events sold for as much as as $25,000.

In 2008, Maloney was one of the Romney campaign’s official co-chairs of Young Professionals for Mitt. In a press release from the Romney campaign in 2008, Maloney said “We are looking forward to helping Governor Romney raise the resources he needs to continue building his strong national organization.”

Romney has gone on the attack in Florida, pressing Gingrich to release records from his time at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FEC records show that Maloney is not currently on the Romney campaign payroll.

Financial-disclosure reports allow candidates to report assets in broad ranges.

Jones said Romney’s assets are in a blind trust, and the trustee makes all the decisions about how they are invested. Romney “has no input or oversight” over the investments, he said.

Today’s the day that Romney is supposed to publish his Tax Returns, after being forced to, by the public’ reaction to his mystifying reticence to do so.

The former Massachusetts governor has revealed in financial disclosure forms in the past that he is worth as much as $250 million, but he has never released tax returns that reveal how much money he makes each year – or how much he pays in taxes.

He agreed to make public his 2010 federal tax returns, and his estimates for 2011, after opponents on both the left and right charged that he was hiding his income and assets. The issue has dogged his campaign in recent weeks and contributed to his loss to Newt Gingrich in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

“Tomorrow you will learn that Governor Romney pays millions in taxes each year, that he gives millions in charitable contributions and that his investments are reported and taxed in full compliance with U.S. tax law,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Governor Romney has paid 100% of what he has owed.”

The longtime private-equity chieftain has already said he pays an effective tax rate of about 15% — substantially lower than the top 35% marginal tax rate on wages and salaries. Experts say he benefits from a tax code that allows investors to keep more of their income than wage earners, particularly investors in the rarefied world of private equity.

The intense focus on Romney’s tax returns underscores how the very core of his candidacy – his experience leading a private equity firm – is also proving to be a liability in a political climate in which class issues have taken center stage.

Why class issues have taken center stage is the subject of a whole ‘nother blog.

So, what can we expect next?  I think Donald Trump answered that question yesterday, when he said:

Nobody knows when it comes to this race. This race is beyond what anyone has ever seen or witnessed before.

No kiddin’.  Pass the popcorn.

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