Mitt Romney gives millions to Mormon Church

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 16 2011 3:45 p.m. MDT

Mitt Romney gives away more money than most Americans make, and the majority of that giving goes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to a Huffington Post article.

"According to IRS documents reviewed by The Huffington Post, Mitt and Ann Romney's charitable foundation gave $4,325,000 to the Mormon Church in three hefty installments in 2003, 2008 and 2009," said the piece. "That was 74 percent of their foundation's donations from 2002 to 2009, during which time the couple gave a total of $5,854,916 to charity."

As a member of the LDS Church, Romney is expected to donate 10 percent of his annual income to the LDS Church in the form of tithing.

"Ten percent of our income may sound like a lot, especially to many of us who already feel like we're living on the edge of our budgets," says a description of tithing on the LDS Church's website mormon.org. "But if we keep the law of tithing God promises to 'open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (Malachi 3:10).'"

LDS Church members, like Romney, are also encouraged to donate to the church's humanitarian efforts.

"In addition to small, personal acts of service, Mormons give large, organized assistance to areas in need," according to the church's website. "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated more than $1 billion in cash and material assistance to 167 different countries in need of humanitarian aid since it started keeping track in 1985."

In addition to tithes and other donations directly to church programs, Romney has also donated $1.3 million to church-owned Brigham Young University since 1998; $1 million of which went to found BYU's George W. Romney Institute for Public Management, according to The Huffington Post.

Yet, Romney's charitable giving has not been exclusively to the LDS Church.

"When I think of Mitt Romney I think of him giving to Reed and Rob Nixon," Priscilla Hutchins, a friend of the Romneys, told the Deseret News in reference to his charitable donations to two Massachusetts locals who were disabled in an automobile accident back in 1995. "They were there right after the Nixon's accident with their open pocket books putting money towards whatever the boys needed. They were very generous, very generous."

Priscilla's husband Kenneth, remembered how Mitt's wife Ann would nudge her husband to always give a little bit more, "It was always interesting to watch their interactions because she would look at Mitt and say 'Mitt, this is a good thing to do,' and the next thing you'd know a check would come."

Yet, it's not just his wife that has pushed Romney into action — when the 14-year-old daughter of a partner in Romney's Bain Capital had disappeared for three days in New York City, Romney famously closed down the firm and asked all his employees to head to NYC and help him find the girl — his efforts cost time and money but led to the girl's recovery a day later.

On average Romney donates $200,000 to non-LDS related charities ranging from the Boy Scouts of America and the Massachusetts Children's Trust Fund to various charities that fight "multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, cancer, epilepsy, Lou Gehrig's Disease and AIDS," the story said.

Though Romney has gained a reputation for his generosity both in and outside the LDS Church, He is also known for giving plenty of cash to his own political campaigns, donating millions to his bid for governor and his failed presidential run.

According to another Huffington Post piece, Romney's donations to various causes far surpass those of his fellow GOP presidential hopeful Gov. Rick Perry (the only other candidate they've looked at); the piece stated that of Perry's $2.68 million earned between 2000-2009, he "gave half a percent to churches and religious organizations, or $14,243."

Of course Perry and the other GOP hopefuls cannot afford to be as philanthropic Romney is, with his personal fortune, or Jon Huntsman Jr., whose family's charitable works are legendary in Utah.

According to reports based on Romney's mandatory financial disclosure made Friday, his estimated assets are valued between $85 and $264 million — the Romney campaign stated that a more realistic estimation is between $190 and $250 million, according to a Boston Globe article.

Despite Romney's large amounts of charitable giving and political donations, Romney has a reputation for frugality — doing his own yard and housework and driving a Ford rather than a more expensive car. Yet, when it comes to his finances it might be Ann Romney who has the final say — when asked by News Max Magazine how much he was worth during his last run, he responded simply, "I'll have to ask my wife ..."

EMAIL: hboyd@desnews.com

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