In 1998, we learned that Al and Tipper Gore made $353 in deductible charitable contributions against income of $198,000 the previous year. In the decade from 1998-2007, Joe and Jill Biden averaged $369 per year in such reported contributions. Bill and Hillary Clinton were infamous for taking charitable contributions for used underwear.
The aforementioned facts are generally not known by people who don't closely follow the news, because not much was made of them. But from the point of view of ABC News, particularly the hatchet men disguised as investigative reporters Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross, Mitt and Ann Romney have a much bigger problem than the Gores, Bidens, and Clintons: They, and particularly Mitt through Bain Capital (dubious, as we'll see), have given too much money to a particular charity. Because the reporters apparently want readers and viewers to see this as something underhanded, they describe charity as "sending" instead of "giving":
Mitt Romney Sent Millions to Mormon Church
Underscoring the prominent, if little discussed role that Mitt Romney played as a Mormon leader, the private equity giant once run by the GOP presidential frontrunner carved his church a slice of several of its most lucrative business deals, securities records show, providing it with millions of dollars worth of stock in some of Bain Capital's most well-known holdings.
Romney has always been a major donor to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which requires that members "tithe," or give 10 percent of their income to the church. His family charity, called the Tyler Foundation, has given more than $4 million to the church in the past five years, including $1.8 million in 2008 and $600,000 in 2009. But because Romney, whose fortune has been estimated at $250 million, has never released his personal tax returns, the full extent of his giving has never been public.
Newly uncovered stock contributions made during Romney's Bain days suggest there is another dimension to Romney's support for the church -- one that could involve millions more than has been previously disclosed.
As part of just one Bain transaction in 2008, involving its investment in Burger King Holdings, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that an unnamed Bain partner donated 65,326 shares of Burger King stock to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, holdings then worth nearly $1.9 million. And there were numerous others, giving the church a stake in other Bain properties, such as Domino's Pizza, the electronics manufacturer DDi, the phosphates company Innophos Holdings, and Marquee Holdings, the parent to AMC Theaters.
... The Mormon church is distinct from many other American denominations in what it asks from adherents in money, time and commitment -- and not just because it asks young Mormon males to spend two years proselytizing for the faith as missionaries, said Jan Shipps, a religion professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, and one of the preeminent non-Mormon authorities on the church.
... Romney appears to have lived up to rigid financial requirements within the church that asks parishioners to contribute 10 percent of their annual earnings.
... Securities records show that Romney found ways to help include the church in some of the companies most lucrative deals, just as other executives at the firm found ways to generate support for their favored charities. Among the companies named on securities filings as "Bain charitable institution donees" were the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, The Boston Foundation Inc., Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund, and family foundations run by several top Bain executives.
... Romney's own family nonprofit, The Tyler Charitable Foundation, was also cut into numerous Bain deals. The nonprofit, run by Bradford Malt -- the Romney personal attorney who oversees all of the candidate's financial holdings -- passed those stock earnings along to a variety of other charities, including the church.
It's hard to believe that ABC really bothered with the previous paragraph -- or for that matter the entire report. What does "an unnamed Bain partner" donating stock to the Mormon church in 2008, nine years after Romney ceased his involvement in the business, have to do with anything? Romney still receives millions in annual distributions from Bain entities, but has represented in his financial disclosure statements that he has had no active involvement. Really, Matthew and Brian, those weren't "Romney's Bain days."
And what's with the use of dealmaking words and phrases to describe charitable donations? There's "sent," "carved his church a slice," "include the church in ... lucrative deals," and "cut into numerous Bain deals."
Here's part of Rush's take on this nonsense earlier today:
So what? Valerie Jarrett just broke the law! She went into a church and gave a political speech ripping into the Republicans and then after the church speech, they did a voter registration drive in a church. Romney's not breaking the law.
What's wrong with giving to your church? It's a charity! He didn't take all the money himself like the Clintons do. He's not hiding it in some family foundation where he can get access to it later, plus a charitable deduction off the top of the donation he's made. Zero interest in Obama from the ABC investigative unit. Zero. I don't know how much money Obama gave Reverend Wright. We don't know how much money Obama gave Reverend Wright. We don't know how much money Reverend Wright gave Obama.
Breaking the law by a Democrat isn't news; but a Republican being generous with his money to an entity which someone doesn't seem to like must be sinister in some way, even though it's clearly lawful. Makes perfect sense to me. (/sarc)
It seems that Ross might have taken the assignment to atone for his breakout report on Jeremiah "Go D**n America" Wright four years ago. If so: For shame, Brian -- especially since you seem to be conveniently setting the stage for an all-out attack on Mormonism should Romney get the GOP nomination.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.