With due respect to the fine speeches by Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Ann Romney, Marco Rubio, various obscure congressional candidates but not Donald Trump, the signal moment of last week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., took place across Tampa Bay at a marina in St. Petersburg.
It was a Wednesday morning reception aboard the 147-foot yacht Cracker Bay for a select group of donors who had raised at least $1 million each for Romney’s campaign for president.
Big-ticket campaign events are common enough in both parties, slightly less loathsome than secret donations to so-called “super PACs” and phony “social welfare” groups. What made the Aug. 29 event noteworthy is that the Cracker Bay was flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.
Yes, the same Cayman Islands that are the offshore banking haven favored by billionaires, millionaires (including Mr. Romney) and corporations seeking to avoid scrutiny and/or U.S. taxes.
The only way this story could have been more painful to the Romney campaign was if the yacht had been named The Tin Ear.
Neither Romney nor Ryan, his vice-presidential running mate, attended the soiree. ABC News, which broke the story, reported that Romney’s brother, Scott Romney, was on board and that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was the scheduled speaker.
The yacht is owned by Florida real estate tycoon H. Gary Morse, a member of the Romney campaign’s Florida finance team. The campaign hasn’t disclosed the names of its “bundlers,” individuals who volunteer to collect money from friends and associates.
“He is the first nominee in 12 years to withhold these names,” Sheila Krumholz told ABC. She is executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money on the website opensecrets.org.
According to superyachts. com, “Cracker Bay offers accommodation for up to 12 guests in five suites comprising one owner cabin, three double cabins, one twin cabin. She is also capable of carrying up to nine crew onboard to ensure a relaxed luxury yacht experience.”
Want to be seen as a regular guy? Party at the Cracker Barrel, not on the Cracker Bay.
The following editorial first appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.