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Mitt Romney
Does Mitt know who he's pallin' around with?
(Matthew Reichbach)
In a column sure to rain lawsuit threats down upon him, Glenn Greenwald exposes many of the scandals surrounding Mitt Romney's national finance co-chair, Idahoan Frank VanderSloot. VanderSloot is a billionaire whose deep pockets have funded no small number of Idaho's political figures. As Greenwald details, his business practices have drawn plenty of unwanted attention, as has his involvement in numerous far-right causes, particularly his anti-gay activism, including running a billboard campaign against Idaho Public Television for running a documentary about teachers talking about lesbian and gay issues in age-appropriate ways. His wife, Belinda, donated $100,000 to California's Prop 8 campaign.

VanderSloot also has a storied history of bullying journalists and bloggers. He seems to have a staff person devoted entirely to googling him and forwarding uncomplimentary instances of him name to his lawyers, so they can send threatening letters and bully said journalists and bloggers to pull their stories. His rabid anti-gay politics combined with his propensity to bully in one particularly disturbing incident involving local media, the Boy Scouts, and the Mormon Church. The "small, independently-owned newspaper in Mormon-heavy Idaho Falls," The Post Register ran an investigative series uncovering the story of a local pedophile in the local Boy Scouts troop who had molested dozens of children. The paper sued to obtain sealed court records from a civil suit in the case, and "then detailed how a Mormon bishop knew of his pedophile history yet still recommended him as a Scout master, how he was protected by several Boy Scout lawyers who were aware of more abuse but did not tell the boys’ parents, and how top-level local and national leaders of the Mormon Church had also received warnings."

The newspaper then began uncovering the presence of several other scout-master pedophiles. As the Post Register‘s courageous Managing Editor, Dean Miller, detailed here, the backlash against the paper, its editors and reporters was severe.
(Continue reading below the fold.)

In response to this six-part exposéwhich won the Scripps Howard Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment—VanderSloot went on a virtual jihad against the newspaper and the principal reporter who exposed the scandal, Peter Zuckerman. VanderSloot bought numerous full-page newspaper ads in The Post Register that attacked the story and explicitly identified the reporter, Zuckerman, as “a homosexual” (Zuckerman had previously written for a small Florida paper about being gay when he lived in that state, but had kept his sexual orientation largely a secret since he moved to rural Idaho). Vandersloot’s full-page ad expressly described the “speculation” that Zuckerman’s homosexuality had made him hostile to the Scouts and LDS: “the Boy Scout’s position of not letting gay men be Scout Leaders, and the LDS Church’s position that marriage should be between a man and a woman may have caused Zuckerman to attack the scouts and the LDS Church through his journalism.” While the ad absurdly sought to repudiate the very “speculation” about Zuckerman which it had just amplified (“We think it would be very unfair for anyone to conclude that is what is behind Zuckerman’s motives”), the predictable damage was done. Zuckerman’s editor, Dean Miller, explained: “Our reporter, Peter Zuckerman, was not ‘out’ to anyone but family, a few colleagues at the paper (including me), and his close friends”; but after VanderSloot outed him to his community in that ad, “strangers started ringing Peter’s doorbell at midnight. His partner of five years was fired from his job.”
Mitt Romney's national campaign finance co-chair is a huge anti-gay bigot. Not just against gay marriage, but a hate-mongering bigot who attacked and outed a reporter because he uncovered a threat to the families in his community—the threat of sexually predatory Boy Scout leaders.

VanderSloot gets away with his bullying ways in this small state because he's got extremely deep pockets and he'll use them to crush anyone, and friends in very high places. Thus far, he's been untouchable. But, as a close adviser and funder of Romney, (his company has given $1 million to the pro-Romney SuperPAC, Restore Our Future) he should be getting at least as much scrutiny by the national media as Foster Friess.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 11:34 AM PST.

Also republished by House of LIGHTS and Daily Kos.

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