That Romney would turn to close associates and his son’s business partners for campaign assistance or a trip on a private jet is not unprecedented. President Obama acted similarly when he paid millions of dollars to David Axelrod’s political consulting firm during the 2008 campaign.
But, as they were back then, questions have been raised about both the type of relationship resulting from these expenditures and whether it is ethical for candidates to use donor money in this manner.
“It is not illegal, but it sure doesn’t smell right when it comes to politics,” said Bob Edgar, chief executive of Common Cause, a national nonprofit advocacy group that first raised concerns about Romney’s Solamere connections to the Boston Globe.
“They themselves have become wealthy by using Romney’s political activities over the past few years,” Edgar said. “I think the general public would question: a. what is this all about, and b. How much is Spencer Zwick making off of Romney, both with the equity firm but also continuing to help him in the development area?”