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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Last-minute Romney scandals

I finally thought of one good reason to vote for Mitt Romney. If he doesn't win, how else can we resolve our collective curiosity as to which Mitt Romney will show up in the White House?

Romney may be an historical footnote before this day is out, yet there are all sorts of unresolved Romney issues that I never got a chance to discuss. Here are a few...

Romney tied to Iran Contra. In part, we've dealt with this issue before: When he founded Bain Capital. Mitt Romney teamed up with a bunch of thuggish, bloody oligarchs from Central America. Now we learn more.
Romney forged a particularly close relationship with Ricardo Poma, a right-wing billionaire from El Salvador, who became a partner at Bain and the leader of the Latin American investors.

Poma owns Transal Corp., a small family real-estate firm formerly at 848 Brickell Avenue in Miami. In 1986, Transal's address, phone number, and the names of two employees and its president turned up in the CIA transport plane whose crash sparked the Iran-contra scandal, according to a Palm Beach Post report just days after the crash.

The plane, piloted by a Wisconsin man named Eugene Hasenfus, was shown to be smuggling arms to Nicaragua as part of an illegal White House plot to prop up the contras with proceeds from arms sales to Iran's Ayatollah. Documents found in the plane's wreckage listed CIA contractors working on the operation and included the contact information for Transal.

Two shell companies listed at Transal's address, office suite 700-A, provided more than a half-million dollars for the inaugural Bain fund that Poma was managing. Poma chipped in another $3 million.

Transal's president, Eduardo Poma, also became an investor in Bain, two years after his name appeared on the documents in the plane. And Transal's employees have been generous supporters of Romney's political career, donating $4,000 to his 1994 Senate race and nearly $20,000 to his two presidential campaigns.

New Times could not get comment from Transal or Bain about the tie. Romney's campaign emailed an excerpt from a Boston Globe article that said a Bain partner assured a "terrified" Romney that the investors were the best and brightest of Central America.

Days after the plane crash, Eduardo Poma told The Palm Beach Post he had no idea why he and Transal were on the documents in the CIA plane, and denied any involvement. (Ricardo Poma has not responded to claims of death squad ties.)

But there is one more wrinkle. Transal's vice president in the 1980s was a contra official named David Raskosky. He set up a Miami company that took a $10,000 disbursement from Oliver North, the infamous military officer in charge of Iran-contra, according to testimony from congressional hearings.
Hasenfus -- who was just a construction worker from Wisconsin, not really a CIA guy -- said that he had been hired by a couple of spooky-types who went by the names "Max Gomez" and "Ramon Medina." They turned out to be Felix Rodriguez and Rafael "Chi Chi" Quintero, both of whom acted as liaisons between Oliver North and the contras.

(There was a time when every young conspiracy buff knew this stuff. Nowadays, all they care about is Alex Jones crap.)

It's pretty clear that Bain was set up in connection with North's schemes. It also has been clear for quite some time that the contra supply operation involved a hell of a lot more than supplying the contras. You may want to take a look at this lengthy post, which I wrote as part of a series on the Cunningham bribery scandal.

In sum: Once upon a time, in a faraway land known as the 1980s, covert operators in and around the Reagan administration were getting up to all sorts of mischief. They were all over the BCCI scandal. And the Savings and Loan scandal. They hustled the Sultan of Brunei. They armed Iran. They ran drugs, although we're never supposed to mention that fact. They sold arms (including lots of stuff NATO kept stored in case of invasion). They sold lots of stuff to Saddam Hussein. It is said that they even found the legendary Japanese gold cache in the Philippines...

Each and every time these scandals came to light, each time someone discovered CIA involvement, the public was given one explanation: "The spooks need money for the contras."

We're talking about an awful lot of money. If all of that dough really was going to the contras, they must have been shooting gold bullets. Odd thing, though: The actual contras -- the mercs fighting in the jungle against the Sandinistas -- complained that they were terribly under-funded and having one hell of a time.

So where did the money go?

I have a suspicion that Mitt Romney might know part of the answer.

If he doesn't, then his buddy Ricardo Poma probably does. Incidentally, the above-quoted piece does not mention that Poma was a founder of the fascist (yes, that word is justified in this case) ARENA party, which murdered any and all perceived opponents.

The Hughes thing. In a previous post, we talked about the weird Howard Hughes connections to Bain Capital. Let us take a refresher view:
 Every time you look into Mitt Romney's associations, you keep running into Howard's ghost. Just look at what we have seen so far:

1. Soler. Bain Capital co-founder Pancho Soler apparently had something to do with arranging Hughes' sojourn in Nicaragua in the 1970s. (Side note: Did you know HH was there for the big 1972 earthquake? A long time ago, the L.A. Times claimed that the poor old guy rode out the big one bouncing around in the back seat of a car parked on a Managua side street.)

2. Kardonski. Another Romney partner, Frank Kardonski, took over Bebe Rebozo's old mafia bank in Key Biscayne. As this bio puts it:

One of the ways that Rebozo helped Nixon was to obtain large campaign contributions from Howard Hughes.
Long story there. You already have the gist of it.

3. The Gays. As noted, Bain's Managing Director was the son of the guy who managed Hughes' business affairs -- during the time when American spooks were quietly taking over the day-to-day running of Hughes' company. As we shall see, Frank "Bill" Gay controlled much of Hughes' money after the old man's death. The importance of this fact will soon become clear.

But before we get to that, let's add to our list of Romney/Hughes links:

4. Morse. Frank Morse ran a Bain company.  He is -- not to mince words -- a CIA-friendly attorney who represented Howard Hughes during the key period described above. After that stint, Morse worked for Adnan Kashoggi and Larry Kolb, the agent for Miles Copeland who got close to both Khashoggi and Muhammed Ali. (I've corresponded a bit with Kolb, who describes his adventures in a fascinating book called Overworld; see these previous posts. An interesting guy, to say the least.) Nowadays, Morse is working with Robert C. Gay.

5. Bennett. Robert Bennett, now a Senator, has close links to Mitt Romney, as discussed in this previous post. Bennett previously was a CIA guy, running a front company called Mullen & Co.

The famous (or should-be-famous) Lukoskie memo, uncovered by writer Jim Hougan and published in his book Secret Agenda, reveals that Bennett was a source of Watergate-related information for Bob Woodward -- who, suitably grateful, kept the CIA out of the Washington Post's Watergate coverage. (The CIA's fingerprints are all over Watergate, if you look closely.) Hougan thinks that at least some of the "Deep Throat" information came from Bennett, not Mark Felt. To this day, Woodward doesn't like to talk about his interactions with the spook who became a senator.

Bennett, almost needless to say, played a key role in the saga of Howard Hughes. When given the opportunity to work for Hughes, Bennett shut down Mullen & Co. in less time than it took you to read this sentence. While employed by Hughes, he...

...well, I'm still not entirely sure what Bennett did on a day-to-day basis. Although Bennett held the title of Public Relations Director for Summa, Hughes' company, he seems to have done a remarkably lousy job. The only publicity Hughes got in those days was negative. Evidence indicates that Bennett helped to arrange Project Azorian, which used a Hughes ship, the Glomar Explorer, to raise a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine.
I think I now understand why Bain really took off only after Robert C. Gay came on board.

A long time ago, I wrote about a scandal involving a guy named Doug McClain, who was pushing a bizarre remedy for MS. That story has no link to Romney (although there is an odd Mormon angle). McClain later got in trouble for -- well, basically, he impersonated a bank. It's a form of stock fraud.

It turns out that when a company needs a loan, it will sometimes offer company stock as collateral for a bank loan. If the borrower defaults, the bank can sell the stock and get its money back. This can be kind of a risky move for the bank, because the stock may be worth a lot less if the company falters.

Got that? It's really pretty simple. At any rate, our lad Doug pretended to be a bank, made loans, sold the stock that he was supposed to hold in reserve, then demanded hefty interest payments. It was a nice little pyramid scheme while it lasted.

Now, I'm not saying that Bain did anything like that. But when I understood what Doug did, I understood why all sorts of people were suddenly willing to loan Mitt Romney tons of money to buy companies he really had no business running. The Gay family worked for Bain. The Gay family controlled the Hughes fortune. That money could be used as collateral.

Suddenly it all makes sense, no?

Taxes. And then, of course, there is the great Romney tax dodge, as outlined by a Dutch newspaper...
The Netherlands connection is complicated but boils down to the country offering huge tax breaks to multi-national firms such as Bain, which is reported to have avoided $100million (80million euros) in dividend taxes there.

Bain managed this by, in 2004, investing in the Irish pharmaceutical company Warner Chilcott.

At the time it was registered in Bermuda, but it moved to Ireland five years later after Barack Obama's administration cracked down on the island's tax breaks.

In 2010, Bain moved its interest in Warner Chilcott to Dutch firm Alter Domus, which provides administrative services for multi-national companies.

If a Dutch company owns more than 5 per cent of the shares in another firm, then that firm is exempt from paying capital gains tax.

The report claims that there is a discrepancy between Mr Romney's tax filings in the U.S. and the tax-exempt shares worth $450,000 that he donated to his son's charity the Tyler Foundation in 2011.

The investigators came to their conclusions by studying Bain's tax returns, Mr Romney's own tax filings and Dutch Chamber Of Commerce documents.

According to an investigation by Bloomberg News published last month, Mr Romney has benefited from a now-outlawed loophole that enables him to use the tax-exempt status of the Mormon church to reduce his own tax bill.

Then the chief executive officer of Bain Capital, he set up the arrangement in June 1996, the year before Congress clamped down on the practice.

As someone whose arrangements were already established, he was allowed to keep them in place.

Called a charitable remainder unitrust, it is one of several strategies Mr Romney has adopted to reduce his tax bill. Such tax avoidance is legal and common among very rich people but it has been turned into an issue by the Obama campaign.
I tell ya -- I'll almost be sorry if Mitt Romney loses today. For a Mormon, he's a lot of fun.
It might be better that Romney wins, because pointing out the obvious might again become fashionable. Under Obama, pointing out the obvious will be remain sacrilegious.
Perhaps you've intentionally left unmentioned Mitt's alleged Cuban spy mistress, per Gordon Duff's recent feature piece? (Very bad photo reproduction)

G-Duff may indeed have intel sources, but I suspect that leaves him vulnerable to spreading agit-prop disinformation at times.

Anyway, an interesting set of allegations at Veteran's Today, which see if you haven't already.


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