Rick Santorum’s campaign has opened up a new line of attack against Mitt Romney, pointing out his evolution on the issue of how wealthy politicians should treat their money.
Santorum’s campaign plans to highlight and distribute a video – a clip of Mitt Romney in 1994 attacking Sen. Edward Kennedy for hiding behind a blind trust to avoid questions about his investments.
At the time, Romney described a blind trust as an “age-old ruse… You can always tell a blind trust what it can and cannot do,” Romney told reporters in 1994 as he was challenging Kennedy in a race for senate.
Romney, who is worth an estimated $250 million, has since adopted just such a blind trust to oversee his investments, although some of the investments have not been without controversy.
This latest effort by Santorum’s campaign shows they are not yet ready to coalesce behind Romney as the eventual nominee, despite calls from Republican party leaders ranging from former President George H.W. Bush to Tea Party leader Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Romney has a insurmountable lead in the delegate race. If Santorum is to somehow make a serious grab for the nomination, it would have to be at the Republican convention in Tampa late this Summer.
Watch the video clip being circulated by the Santorum campaign here.
ABC’s Matthew Mosk wrote about Romney’s blind trust back in December. Romney’s campaign justified the placement of some of the candidate’s holdings in the international tax haven of the Cayman islands, explaining the money was put there by the trust and not by Romney. His spokesman said back in December that Romney has always paid U.S. taxes on income from investments based outside the U.S. The trust drew scrutiny in 2007 during Romney’s first run for the presidency, for investments in companies dealing in stem cells and others with involvement in Iran.
The trust that oversees Romney’s assets is headed by Bradford Malt, a personal friend and longtime associate of the Romneys.
As Mosk wrote in December, some experts have questioned whether someone with Malt’s close ties to Romney could oversee the candidate’s finances with true independence. In addition to serving as the trustee for Romney’s charitable foundation, Malt’s law firm has represented Romney’s interests in legal disputes, and Malt served as the primary outside counsel to Romney’s company, Bain Capital. A sign of those ties surfaced in August, when Romney filed his financial disclosure report and revealed that Malt had invested over $1 million of the candidate’s money in the Solamere Founders Fund. Solamere is managed by Tagg Romney, Mitt’s son.
Cleta Mitchell, a Washington, D.C. election lawyer who has done legal work for Rick Santorum’s campaign, said it would be hard to explain how Romney’s independent investment fund would orchestrate a $1 million investment with his son’s firm without violating the terms of a standard blind trust — terms that typically prohibit communication with family members.
“What you’re saying to the government is, I don’t have any control over this, my spouse doesn’t, and neither do my dependent children,” Mitchell said. “The filer says, ‘I don’t know what’s in it. I just get income from it.’”