They start off . . .
Governor Mitt Romney vigorously defended a plan yesterday by his political advisers to develop a network of Mormon supporters for his potential presidential bid,
What is this "vigorous defense" that they refer to? Romney said:
``Clearly, I'm going to raise money from people I know, and that includes BYU alums, people of my church, people of other churches, Harvard Business School graduates,"
So Romney essentially admitted to being a politician (real big story) . . . but I see no where that he defended any "plan" to specifically and exclusively develop this so-called "Mormon network" (unless their definition of a "Mormon network" is "two or more individual Mormons who decide to support Romney for President" . . . if that's the case, then we have a "Romney Mormon Network" right here in my own home!)
Romney's comments suggest that the fund-raising initiative, which his political advisers dubbed Mutual Values and Priorities, or MVP, remained an active effort.
Oh really? Where did they come up with that? Talk about hearing what you want to hear! A Romney spokesman even stated that the MVP program had been abandoned (that it never really took off). I guess these reporters see their big "expose" of the MVP program disintegrating and they're trying to breathe life back into it?
But they get even more desperate:
They quote a statement of Otterson, a church spokesman, about the LDS strong history of political neutrality and then mention that he "declined to elaborate" . . . like the church has something to hide about it's history with politics. Well, I guess they missed Otterson's response to the Globe article they wrote . . . looks like plenty of "elaboration" to me.
Then they line up some IRS "experts" to strengthen their "scandal story" that the LDS church is in violation of non-profit tax codes.
Donald C. Alexander, who headed the IRS from 1973 to 1977, said yesterday that the collaboration among Romney's political team and leaders of the church and school could run afoul of federal law.
``The massive effort described in your article is, if not over the line, I think much too close to the line," he said. ``I think individual Mormons can and probably will support the governor, but they should support the governor as individuals, not in their capacities as having responsibilities for a church or for a university."
That last sentence is true and is the lesson all church organizations should take away from this ordeal. However, what is this "massive effort" he speaks of? I'm offended I wasn't included. Funny stuff, eh?
Finally they bring in a voice of reason:
Milton Cerny, a retired lawyer who formerly oversaw tax-exempt groups for the IRS, had a different take, saying the actions of the church and BYU did not appear to violate federal law, because Romney is not officially running for president.
``You don't have an announced candidate," said Cerny, who lives in Virginia. ``These are committees being formed to see whether the individual could be a viable candidate or not."
So, even if the "spirit of the law" was violated (which it was not, IMO), all parties involved are completely in no violation of the "letter of the law".
This article redeems itself near the end with some entertaining coverage of Romney visit to Florida.
In Daytona Beach yesterday, Romney, speaking to about 50 Republicans outside a GOP campaign office, cracked a joke about the Massachusetts media.
``There are two factions of reporters where I come from in Massachusetts," he said. ``We have the Hillary-loving, Ted Kennedy apologists -- and we have the liberals."
The audience erupted in laughter and applause. Romney also heaped praise on Jeb Bush, calling him the best governor in America. ``There's no question about that," he said.
Later in the day, when Romney appeared with Bush at an event for congressional candidate Vern Buchanan, at an airplane hangar in Venice, Fla., he received a standing ovation from about 200 Republicans.
Romney mingled, signed autographs, posed for photographs, and sang an impromptu Irish blessing with a barbershop quartet before refusing to answer any more questions from the Massachusetts reporter.
``Hi, on our way," he said as he brushed past to a waiting van.
Of course they had to end with an insinuation that Romney was avoiding any more discussion about his huge "MVP-scandal." However, I'd love to hear more about him singing that impromptu Irish blessing with a barbershop quartet . . . Anyone know if he's got pipes?