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Zinc Into Gold

by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele

Nov 1, 2012 | Economy, Politics


As CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee in 1999, Mitt Romney promised a cheaper, “zinc plated” Olympics. Yet the 2002 Winter Games received twice the federal funding as the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, according to a GAO audit requested by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

“[A]bout $75 million was provided for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, about $609 million was provided for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, and about $1.3 billion has been provided or planned for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.”

Romney claimed the federal subsidy (ultimately $1.5 billion) was a response to security needs after the September 11 attacks. Yet he took over in 1999, the GAO report was released on September 18, 2000, and the Games began in February 2012.

McCain complained that much of the federal money went to “land swaps, worthless land for valuable…land developers…the enrichment of billionaires.” One example of the latter: Utah billionaire Earl Holding. Taxpayers paid $15 million to build a road to his Snowbasin ski resort and swapped him 1,378 acres of prime Park Service land adjacent to Snowbasin for inaccessible land in northern Utah.

Sources: GAO Report B-282746 GA0/GGD-00-183n, September 8, 2000; “Salt Lake 2002: Snow Job,” by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, The IRE Journal, March/April 2002

Also in this issue: Romney’s Olympic Events: Deception and Dirty Politics and Cashing In on the Olympics

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