It wasn't that long ago that Mitt Romney was making the impassioned claim that Russia was our number one geopolitical foe and we should be aiming our military might at seeing to it they're cowed and put in their place. Of course, Romney's Reagan-era world view didn't stop him from making the big bucks helping Big Tobacco do business over there, but then, business is business and politics is just better business, right?
Evidently Tagg and Matt Romney agree with that philosophy. They are unafraid of the bogeymen in Russia. Quite the contrary. They welcome the opportunity to bring Russian oligarchs into the fold of vulture capitalism inhabited by American oligarchs, whether real estate or corporate equity just as their father did with his Latin American oligarchs in order to make his fortune.
Let's start with Matt, who took a little jaunt to Russia for the sole purpose of courting oligarchs to his newest venture. Like father, like son. Via New York Times:
Matt Romney, a son of the Republican presidential nominee, traveled to Moscow this week seeking Russian investors for his California-based real estate firm just days before his father is to wrap up a campaign in which he has vowed to take a tougher stance with the Kremlin.
Mr. Romney, the second-oldest son of Mitt Romney, met with Russians whom he hoped to convince to invest in his company, Excel Trust, which owns shopping centers across the United States, the firm said. Although the company’s focus has been solely domestic, it said it has begun exploring international opportunities to raise funds.
Mr. Romney’s trip a week before the presidential election underscored the complex relationship between his family’s business and the political campaign. Mitt Romney has criticized President Obama for being too soft on Russia, calling it “our No. 1 geopolitical foe” and promising to confront President Vladimir V. Putin’s government with “more backbone” if elected on Tuesday.
Now, don't be shocked by this, but Matt actually told his oligarchs they shouldn't worry if Dad is elected, because his rhetoric is just a bunch of bluster.
But while in Moscow, Mr. Romney told a Russian known to be able to deliver messages to Mr. Putin that despite the campaign rhetoric, his father wants good relations if he becomes president, according to a person informed about the conversation.
Matt Romney traveled to Moscow with Gary B. Sabin, the chairman and chief executive of Excel Trust, which is based in San Diego. Greg Davis, the firm’s vice president of capital markets and communications, said the trip was unrelated to the campaign.
Excel Trust invests in real estate; specifically, commercial real estate with big box stores like Staples and Sports Authority. There's a surprise. I suppose it wouldn't surprise you to know that Gary Sabin is also Mormon, either. Not that there's some secret Mormon thing going on with respect to Russia or anything, but really, does anyone think it's a good idea to sell California real estate to Russian oligarchs?
Onward to Tagg Romney now. Lee Fang first reported about Tagg's Solamere investments and Mitt's $10 million initial investment, and how it stands to be a conduit into a Romney White House. Solamere, as a fund of funds, could also be viewed as a billionaire aggregator, rounding up Mitt's billionaires and setting them up for pretty profits if Mitt were elected president.
What is known is that Solamere’s private equity partners are eager to influence the federal government. Three of the firms listed in the Solamere prospectus—Sun Capital Partners, TPG Capital and TA Associates—are currently financing a lobbying campaign under a trade group called the Private Equity Growth Capital Council (PEGCC), which is seeking to influence a number of tax and regulatory decisions.
The PEGCC has spent nearly $5.8 million on federal lobbying over the past three years, and untold millions this year on a public relations campaign in swing states to improve the image of private equity—a strategy seen as designed to benefit Romney’s campaign. One of the primary concerns of the PEGCC and many private equity firms is that the carried interest loophole, which allows wealthy investment managers to be taxed at only the 15 percent capital gains rate, may be closed. The group has also fired off at least a dozen letters and held meetings with regulators to complain about the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill’s mandates, ranging from new registration requirements to limits on commodity speculation.
The Seattle Times has more:
Fracking and other energy interests have put their money with Tagg. So have military contractors. Dental-management companies have been targeted for pressuring dentists to perform expensive work on low-income children, the bill sent to Medicaid. They’re in Solamere. So are the investor-owners of for-profit colleges, which Romney has praised from the stump. Known for providing weak education, the for-profit schools draw 85 percent of their revenues from taxpayers. Romney a small-government president? My foot.
So, let's add all of this up. Matt Romney goes to Russia to round up Russian oligarchs for investment in California real estate funds. Tagg Romney and Spencer Zwick are tied up with Solamere Equity, a "fund of funds" that has private equity partners lobbying to influence tax and regulatory decisions, and some of those investors are military contractors, energy investors, and fracking proponents.
This would not end well for we, the people.