Romney’s London fundraisers will take him to heart of scandal-plagued banking industry

Mitt Romney’s overseas trip next week will take him to the heart of London’s scandal-ridden banking industry, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee holds two campaign fundraisers hosted by lobbyists and executives from more than two dozen financial institutions.

The hosts of Romney’s high-dollar reception and dinner on July 26 overwhelmingly represent banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions, some of which are embroiled in the Libor rate-fixing scandal.

By appearing at the fundraisers on the eve of the Olympics’ Opening Ceremonies, Romney risks associating his campaign with the unfolding scandal, which focuses on banks that manipulated the London interbank offered rate, a benchmark for mortgages, auto loans and other financial contracts.

One of the event’s co-chairs is Patrick Durkin, a Washington-based lobbyist for Barclays, which agreed last month to pay $450 million to settle allegations that it manipulated Libor before and after the financial crisis. Durkin has helped raise $1.1 million for the Romney campaign, according to U.S. disclosure records.

This month, the Boston Globe reported that Barclays’ chief executive, Bob Diamond, withdrew as a co-host after the bank settled with British and U.S. authorities. He resigned July 3 from Barclays.

The Romney events have sparked anger among some members of the British Parliament, who have called on Barclays executives to halt political fundraising while the scandal plays out.

Executives of at least three other banks under investigation in the Libor scandal — Eric Varvel, chief executive of Credit Suisse; Raj Bhattacharyya, a managing director at Deutsche Bank; and Whitfield Hines, a managing director at HSBC — are co-chairs, according to copies of invitations obtained by The Washington Post.

At least 15 banks are under investigation by British regulators in connection with the Libor manipulations, according to regulatory filings and statements.

Romney is holding two London fundraisers: a $2,500-per-person receptionand a dinner costing $25,000 to $75,000 per person.

A Romney campaign spokeswoman declined to comment.

Romney’s is not the only campaign raising money from Barclays executives. Vice President Biden held a fundraiser this month in Park City, Utah, co-hosted by Mark Gilbert, a Barclays investment banker who is deputy finance director at the Democratic National Committee.

U.S. election law allows candidates to raise money from U.S. citizens overseas, and presidential hopefuls have long sought donations from them. A Post analysis of Federal Election Commission reports shows that President Obama has raised $3.1 million from expatriates, compared with $1.4 million for Romney. Obama’s total includes at least $600,000 from addresses in Britain, $176,000 from Switzerland and $63,000 from China. Romney has drawn at least $311,000 from Britain and $140,000 from Hong Kong. The figures are imprecise because some Americans living overseas maintain U.S. addresses. Only U.S. citizens and legal residents may give to presidential campaigns.

Romney, a former private equity manager, has relied heavily on campaign donations from those in the finance and banking industries, including employees of the firm he co-founded, Bain Capital.

According to the invitations, the hosts of Romney’s events overwhelmingly come from the finance industry, including such major firms as Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, Wells Fargo and Cerberus. There are co-hosts from Bain Capital and Ropes & Gray, the Boston law firm with close ties to Romney.

Also hosting are Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets; Dan Bricken, a managing director at Wells Fargo Securities; Gregg Lemkau, head of European mergers and acquisitions for Goldman Sachs; Dwight Poler, a managing director for Bain Capital Europe; Anthony Diamandakis, a managing director at Credit Suisse; and Calvin Tarlton, a director at Wells Fargo Securities.

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.
Deputy Editor, National Politics
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