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Inside Politics: Romney’s fundraisers quietly amass millions

- - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CAMPAIGN

Romney's fundraisers quietly amass millions

The campaign of Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney doesn't follow the practice of other major presidential candidates who have willingly identified their big-money fundraisers and the amounts they collect.

But a review by the Associated Press of campaign records and other documents reveals hints about the vast national network of business leaders bringing in millions to elect Mr. Romney.

One example is the billionaire owner of the NFL's Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross. Federal records show that Mr. Romney's campaign received $317,000 from nearly 150 people who share Ross' exclusive ZIP code on Florida's east coast. The same month, Mr. Ross invited friends and colleagues to his Palm Beach-area home for a Romney fundraiser.

The lack of transparency by the Romney campaign prevents voters from knowing who wields influence inside his campaign.

CAMPAIGN

Gingrich says his camp must keep tight budget

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says his campaign will have to stay on a tight budget to make it to the convention.

Mr. Gingrich says he has enough to keep going, but his campaign must stay on "a fairly tight budget" to reach the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla.

Mr. Gingrich was campaigning Tuesday in Annapolis. He is criticizing Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to raise taxes on gasoline.

Maryland's primary, with 37 delegates at stake is set for Tuesday. Rep. Ron Paul is scheduled to be at the University of Maryland in College Park on Wednesday. Mitt Romney was in Arbutus last week.

OHIO

Federal court rejects 'Joe the Plumber' suit

CINCINNATI — Federal judges in Cincinnati have rejected a lawsuit by "Joe the Plumber" claiming his rights were violated by a state records search after he voiced public concern over taxes to then-candidate Barack Obama.

The three-judge 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld dismissal of the lawsuit. Samuel Wurzelbacher became nationally known as "Joe" during the 2008 presidential campaign after the much-quoted discussion.

He claims his First Amendment and privacy rights were violated by Ohio Job and Family Services officials who searched databases for information about him. The judges found Mr. Wurzelbacher wasn't harmed nor his free speech chilled by "fruitless database searches."

Two officials have resigned and a third was ousted.

Mr. Wurzelbacher won the House 9th District GOP nomination this year and will face Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

ARIZONA

Legislators again say yes to free tickets

PHOENIX — It's been a year since the Fiesta Bowl scandal embarrassed legislators, but at least some Arizona lawmakers still like their perks.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have again offered free tickets to legislators for the baseball team's first game of the season, and a team executive said Tuesday that at least 40 of the 90 senators and representatives have accepted so far.

"A good time," said state Rep. Doris Goodale, Kingman Republican, when asked what she'll get out of going to the game April 6.

Lawmakers won't break any rules by accepting the passes. And state Sen. Judy Burges, Sun City West Republican, said the tickets she's accepting for herself and her husband provide an opportunity for lawmakers to socialize and get to know each other away from the pressure cooker of the Capitol.

The Fiesta Bowl scandal has led to criminal charges alleging bowl personnel were illegally reimbursed for campaign contributions. The politicians involved apparently weren't aware of the scheme.

NEW YORK

Rangel agrees to pay $23,000 fine in FEC case

NEW YORK — Rep. Charles B. Rangel and his campaign have agreed to pay $23,000 stemming from his use of a rent-stabilized apartment in New York City as a campaign office.

The New York Times reports that the Federal Election Commission found that the Harlem Democrat accepted campaign contributions beyond the legal limit when he leased the apartment at a price below market rate.

City and state guidelines require rent-stabilized apartments be solely used as a primary residence.

Mr. Rangel moved his campaign office out of the apartment soon after the leasing arrangement became public.

His spokeswoman told the Times that the agreement to pay the civil fine was not an admission of guilt.

The 81-year-old congressman announced last week that he'll run for a 22nd term. He was convicted on House ethics charges in 2010.

NEW JERSEY

Governor urges Springsteen to play in Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is calling on native son Bruce Springsteen to step up and help Atlantic City by performing at the new Revel casino on Labor Day weekend.

The governor made the plea Tuesday during a tour of the new casino, which opens Monday. The facility wouldn't have been finished without state tax incentives.

The governor views Revel as the centerpiece of an effort to revive the fortunes of Atlantic City, where the casino business has been on a long downward spiral.

Mr. Christie has seen Mr. Springsteen perform more than 100 times and says he has already lost out to Beyonce for the chance to headline at Revel's grand opening Memorial Day weekend. He says Mr. Springsteen could still show his support for New Jersey by performing there during Labor Day weekend.

A publicist for Mr. Springsteen, whose catalog includes a song titled "Atlantic City," declined to comment.

The resort says it would love to have Mr. Springsteen, if he's up for it.

From wire dispatches and staff reports