July 13, 2012 by Nash Riggins
As the US presidential election continues to build momentum, Republican challenger Mitt Romney is set to go ahead with a campaign fundraiser hosted by London’s leading bankers, lawyers and ambassadors; however, the move may be the most ill-advised political decision Romney has made since boasting his speculative plans to repeal Obamacare at an NAACP convention.
The fundraiser, which is to take place on 26 July, features a $25,000-$75,000 per plate dinner alongside Patrick Durkin – one of Romney’s top fundraisers and the Washington lobbyist for British banking conglomerate Barclays.
Unfortunately for Romney, his shoulder-rubbing with Barclays giants will have occurred only several weeks after the bank was caught rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), a global measure used in order to set interest rates on trillions of dollars worth of commodities and securities. The scandal has cost millions of consumers – in the UK and abroad – dearly with regards to their mortgages and loans, and has also depleted funds from small banks, investment funds and pensions. On the one hand, Barclays did submit a formal apology last week before preparing to shell out almost $450 million in settlements – yet on the other, the damage has clearly already been done.
Barclays’ embarassment is only the most recent Libor fixing scandal to take place within the past 7 years, and the super-bank should be thrilled to know that it can now join ranks amongst other disgraced giants such as JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, UBS, Bank of America, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland – half of which are among Romney’s top 20 campaign donors. For a man attempting to identify with a nation in which 46.2 million individuals are living below the poverty line, Mitt Romney sure isn’t treading very carefully with regards to his relationships with unscrupulous banking conglomerates.
That being said, Mr Romney has never worried about subtly with regards to the inarguably questionable fortunes that are owned by his friends – after all, the man is worth around $250 million in and of himself. On a sidenote, it should also be taken into account that Romney just happened to schedule his London fundraiser in order to coincide with the London Olympic Games, in which he will receive VIP treatment while watching his wife’s prized thoroughbred horse compete with the US equestrian team – if that isn’t a man who personifies the struggles of working-class America, God knows who is.
Unfortunately for Mr Romney, Bob Diamond – the freshly resigned and disgraced American-born CEO of Barclays – will be unable to join him in the royal box, as Diamond has no doubt been strictly advised to steer clear of the presidential candidate in order to avoid ‘entangling’ Romney with Barclays’ fresh scandal. In fact, Diamond was actually set to be the host of Romney’s dinner until just last week.
“When we first started organising it, Bob was perceived to be a respected captain of industry in Britain, and precisely the sort of man that Mitt would want to be photographed with when he comes here,” one organiser said. “Obviously, the situation has since changed somewhat.”
Said Republican planner is utterly incorrect in his assumption that the “situation has changed.” There are set to be 47 Bob Diamonds at Romney’s London fundraiser, and the majority of his mostly unidentified guests no doubt work for banks such as Barclays – so how else should they be categorised? Indeed, Mitt Romney’s visit to London will include nothing but photo-ops with conservative London’s richest movers and shakers who are oozing with financial scandal.
If nothing else, Mr Romney’s first visit to London as a prospective president should merely reaffirm to the world just how out of touch he is with a vast slice of American society. It shouldn’t be ignored that Democratic incumbent Barack Obama is also a millionaire, because it now appears to be a prerequisite in western democracy that one must be a millionaire before being permitted to hold the nation’s highest office; however, at least President Obama has the good sense not to be seen cavorting with unscrupulous American expats whose ‘financial prowess’ continues to perpetuate a worldwide economic recession.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, employees of banking institutions such as Barclays have contributed over $2 million to the Romney campaign in the last few months alone. To any sensible politician, continuing to accept millions in donations from such organisations via a series of swanky offshore fundraisers would seem fairly scandalous; however, to Mitt Romney, it’s apparently just a ‘typical’ Thursday.