Mitt Romney move to Marriott board no surprise

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6 2012 11:04 a.m. MST

This Nov. 7, 2012 file photo shows Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waving to supporters at an election night rally in Boston. Romney returned to the Marriott International board of directors earlier this week

Stephan Savoia, Associated Press

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Mitt Romney returned to the Marriott International board of directors earlier this week, the company founded by his namesake. Willard Mitt Romney was named after J. Willard Marriott, and the Romney and Marriott clans have been close over the years.

"We will benefit from his tremendous energy and capability to guide long-term success in an increasingly complex business environment," J.W. Marriott Jr., the company's executive chairman, said in a press release. "We look forward to working closely with him again as a member of our strong, talented and diverse board."

Romney served for nine years prior to being elected governor and then between presidential runs, but he is only one of several directors with long ties to the company.

"The board," Business Insider reported, "increased to 11 members with Mr. Romney’s addition, includes seven who have served for at least a decade, according to the company’s most recent proxy filing."

"In part due to such factors, Marriott is rated ‘C’ on its governance," Business Insider noted, pointing to the oversight difficulties of a board that is too close to corporate leadership.

The return to the Marriott board surprised no one but evokes criticism from those already critical of Romney.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank lit into Romney for returning to business as usual, calling on him instead to take an active role push his party to the left on the fiscal cliff.

"It’s understandable that Romney would now feel like shrinking from the scene: He offered the people a choice, and they chose otherwise. But this is a crucial time for the country and particularly for Romney’s Republican Party, which must unshackle itself from the far right or become irrelevant," Milbank wrote.

Milbank’s column sparked exasperation on the right. Typical was Paul Miringoff at Powerline, who argued that Romney carries no force with Congressional Republicans and agrees with them on the merits anyway.

"Romney’s voice carries no weight with congressional Republicans," Mirengoff writes, "For Romney to act as if it does would be a fool’s errand. The only impact would be to allow the likes of Milbank to attack congressional Republicans for not following the ‘voice of reason,’ suddenly represented by the recently-demonized Mitt Romney."

The move caught interest elsewhere in the media. At the Atlantic Wire, Alexander Abad-Santos noted that Romney's $170,000 will only begin to pay back the hotel bills that the Romney campaign paid to Marriott over the course of the campaign.

And the New York Times Nick Confesorre was ready with an answer. "This question has an answer!," he tweeted. "Romney disbursements to Marriott (only one part of the pie) totaled $1,471,555."

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.

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