- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In recent months Mitt Romney, whose personal fortune is estimated to be as much as a quarter of a billion dollars, blanketed the airwaves of Iowa and New Hampshire with dozens of campaign advertisements. He clearly has spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money in Iowa and New Hampshire, but he steadfastly declines to say how much. The Romney campaign suffers from a glaring transparency deficiency, which it should address at once.

Mr. Romney has every right to bankroll his presidential campaign with his own money. No argument here. But why has he refused to tell voters how much of his personal fortune he has funneled to his campaign since the end of the third quarter?

On Jan. 4, the day after Mike Huckabee defeated Mr. Romney in Iowa, this newspaper asked the Romney campaign to say how much Mr. Romney had personally contributed since Sept. 30. During the first nine months of last year, Mr. Romney had given his campaign $17.4 million, about 90 percent more than the $9.2 million in the campaign’s cash-on-hand on Sept. 30.

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden tells us the campaign “won’t release [fourth quarter] numbers until closer to the filing deadline of [Jan. 31],” which falls after the voting in Iowa and New Hampshire, and after Michigan on Jan. 15, Nevada and South Carolina on Jan. 19 and Florida on Jan. 29.

Delaying the release of this crucial information until “closer to the filing deadline of Jan. 31” is contrary to the Romney campaign’s practice at the end of each of the first three quarters of last year. Within two or three days of the end of each of the first three quarters, the campaign announced both his fund-raising totals and his personal contributions. As the contributions from others declined from $20.8 million in the first quarter to $13.9 million in the second, to less than $10 million in the third, Mr. Romney increased his own contributions to his campaign each quarter from $2.35 million in the first quarter to $6.5 million in the second, and $8.5 million in the third.

Through the end of the third quarter, the Romney campaign had already spent nearly $55 million. That was before his media blitz began in Iowa. Mr. Romney should bring his reporting up to date at once, including full disclosure from the end of September to yesterday, when New Hampshire opened the primary season.

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