Who really built that…

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/59124558@N06/7633970352/” title=”romney-home-utah by dengre.bj, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8153/7633970352_859ce6d405.jpg” width=”457″ height=”344″ alt=”romney-home-utah”></a>

This is Mitt Romney’s old home in the Deer Valley development outside of Park City, Utah.

In 2009 he sold it for a almost $5.25 million.

Earlier this year, Mitt held a gathering of his high end donors ($50,000 plus givers) and GOP/wingnut potentates at another estate in Deer Valley. The slush fund party was held at the home of Scott Keller of Keller Investment Properties–a real estate developer who made a fortune off land/development deals in Summit County and around Park City. As these ‘masters of their galtian universe’ gathered to celebrate Mittens, they could look over Deer Valley and think that all the wealth generated in this corner of Utah (and all over the world) was because of them and their brilliance. I suspect that they all (especially Mitt) thought “look what we have built with our own hands–and without the help of anybody else, especially the God Damn government!”

Sure they thought that, but like with most things they think–it was wrong.

In the recent past, say 10-12 years ago, the 2002 Winter Olympics were going to be held in Utah. By 1998 the effort was swamped by a bid rigging scandal.  Folks in control of the Games were pushed out. New grifters were brought in and they brought in Mitt. He hired a team of lobbyists. And for slightly less than a $4 million investment, these lobbyist convinced a GOP controlled Congress and the Bush Administration to bail out the Olympics with $1.5 billion picked from the pockets of US taxpayers. Most of that money went to road construction projects around Northern Utah. Of the 10 major infrastructure projects that taxpayers paid for, four were near Deer Valley and Romney’s old home. Taxpayers spent about $70 Million for new infrastructure that increased the property values around Summit County. Deer Valley (and Mitt’s house) was in the middle of the profit zone. By the start of the 2002 Games the development boom was in full swing.

Romney’s patrons could imagine that their property values increased because of their hard work, but without the $1.5 billion taxpayer bailout to build out the infrastructure in Northern Utah, their land would still be isolated, remote and not worth that much.

Ah, but what if you thought the growth would happen with or without the Olympics. That–as Mitt claims–the money his lobbyists pried from taxpayers would have been spent on Utah anyway. That the reason folks wanted to be in Utah was because of the Ski/Winter sports/tourism industry and that the Federal Government had noting to do with it. What if you thought that all these talking points proved that Mitt and his fellow elites created all of the wealth by the sweat of their brows and the roughness of their calloused hands?

Yes, it’s good spin, but all of it is wrong.

Turns out that Mitt bought his plot of land in Deer Valley back in 1995. He bought his 9.880 acres from Blue Ledge Corporation, a part of the United Park City Mines CO. Funny story. United Park City Mines CO used to be in the mining business, but then the mines around Park City played out. By 1960 the area was isolated and economically depressed. Still, there were mountains and snow. The folks running the failing mine owned a lot of surrounding real estate. They ditched mining and went into the development business. They decided to build a tourist destination focused on skiing and winter sports. Their problem: they had no cash, no capital and nobody in the private sector would fund their scheme.

Their solution: a $1.2 million loan (in 1963 dollars) from US taxpayers to fund a gondola, base and summit lodges, a chairlift, a J-bar, and a nine-hole golf course and other elements that would become Treasure Mountain.  It was a success and fueled Billions of dollars of wealth in Utah over the next 50 plus years. But it never would have happened without the Federal Government.

In the history of Park City a United Park City Mines CO official is quoted advising property owners around Park City to hang onto their land (that was worth about $500 per city lot at the time). UPCM held onto theirs. They divided some of that land into parcels to create the Deer Valley developments. In 1995, Mitt Romney bought one of those parcel (I suspect he paid around five figures for it, possibly six). In 1999 Mitt took the job to run the 2002 Olympics and hired lobbyists to bail out the games. Most of that money was for infrastructure projects. An impact of those projects was that the value of Mitt’s property increased.

When Mitt sold his house for almost $5.25 million, I’ll bet he thought that he created all of the value himself. He didn’t. Taxpayers put up the money that gave the land its worth. And as a taxpayer I don’t think it is too much to ask that Mitt and his fellow Galtian Grifters pay their fair share of taxes.

They should think of it as paying dividens to America.



80 replies
  1. 1
    ant says:

    wus that round thing?

    how many fireplaces does that thing have?

  2. 2
    jl says:

    I don’t get it. Honest graft takes skill, no one helps you ( except others who are ALSO helping themselves, BTW). You pick the land, and you ram the bills through the leg. Self made man. What more do you want?

    Dennis G should repackage this sucker as a tribute, and he might get it posted over on some wingnut site. :)

  3. 3
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    Speaking of infrastructure, my cable and Internet were nuked from orbit an hour ago. Troubleshot–troubleshooted?–called tech support and got an “Outage in your area” message. A rarity. Early to bed for Steep.

  4. 4
    jl says:


    ” wus that round thing?”

    All Amercian portico for shooting rodents and rabbits, small varmints, if you will? Mitt began when he was 15 or so and has hunted those kinds of varmints since then

  5. 5
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Be it ever so humble . . .

  6. 6
    maya says:

    Ah, yes, those good old free-wheeling spending days of the Bush Administration. Price was no object. No bid-contracts drawn on cocktail napkins. Oversight? Surely you jest. And no one even knew how to spell austerity. Good times. Good times.

  7. 7
    Phil P. says:

    Sweet jeebus, that is a monster-sized pile.

  8. 8
    CA Doc says:

    How conveeeenient for old Mittens. No wonder he had to drop everything at Bain to focus on the Olympics–his Utah real estate investments needed some TLC.

  9. 9
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Phil P.:

    No no, it’s exactly the right size.

  10. 10
    danielx says:

    A house? As in a single family detached home? I thought that was a hotel, possibly in the Alps.


    I’m sorry, that eight year period has mysteriously vanished from many memories. Kind of inconvenient for anti-deficit harangues, don’t you know, let alone Republican business and management genius.

  11. 11
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    In all honesty, if I had more money than FSM, I would buy that pile like that! (::snaps fingers::) It really looks beautiful.


    But beautiful.

  12. 12
    LosGatosCA says:

    I don’t think there is sufficient appreciation for the ingenuity of the Galtian overlords in contributing their ideas selflessly for the betterment of Utah, America, and free markets. Rather than tax dividends for America think of the $5+M for the property as the commission on putting American tax dollars to work productively in the private sector. After all, didn’t the US government get their rightful return on their venture capital investment. They did, right? Just like they get those VC type returns from the stadium deals they underwrite. That’s how it works right? Early investors get the big returns. Am I missing something?

  13. 13
    Redshift says:

    OT: My company switched insurance this spring because our old insurer (which is primarily a life insurance company) decided to get out of the health insurance business.

    Today, I got confirmation of what I had suspected was the reason — a letter from them explaining that they were required to give us a rebate because of the Affordable Care Act. (Apparently they were only spending 68% of premiums on care.)

    In addition to being nice financially for my company, since it’s employer-paid insurance, it’s excellent to see insurance companies sending out involuntary campaign literature for Obama!

  14. 14
    MikeJ says:

    @Redshift: I’ve been wondering if end of the fiscal year for insurance companies is going to start looking like end of fiscal year for federal agencies, i.e., “holy shit, we’ve got money left we better fucking spend it!”

    It would be good if that happened for the next year or two, but even better if after that the insurance companies figured out how to do it correctly and pay out the right amount all along.

  15. 15
    BillinGlendaleCA says:


    if I had more money than FSM

    There’s only one Exxon-Mobil. A little humor gleened from my days working for satan.

  16. 16
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Since its an open thread…

    For shits and giggles I’ve been looking at various Army forums this evening (Army Times and about.com), and am fascinated by what is going on-people are talking about lots of impending reductions, as well as a bunch of bullshit changes in AR 670-1. Also, I was not aware that patrol caps were back in, and velcro was out on the ACU.

  17. 17

    This is a fantastic post, thanks

  18. 18
    katie5 says:

    @jl: Like you, I think Dennis G. is misreading Galt/Rand. It’s perfectly compatible with Galtian “philosophy” to suck off the teat of the feds in a massive way and still claim you did it yourself. It’s not even cognitive dissonance because our captains of industry advocate taking the government for all its worth: “Hey, if the government is offering it, we’d be idiots not to take it.” That’s why Ron Paul can state, with no sense of irony, that it’s acceptable to take social security while attempting to demolish it.

    I don’t like it. But without understanding this, there’s no way to counter the “Government keep your hands off my Medicare” folks.

  19. 19
    Little Boots says:

    in a sense, not much of a sense, but a sense, I do sort of see what the conservatards are on about. everything is entangled with government.

    It actually works out okay, it really does, despite the occasional scandal, but really everything is entangled. the idea of some pure market, not connected is dead as Adam Smith (who didn’t actually give a shit, but they think he did.)

    we’re all part of the same big thing. and a lot of it is government.

  20. 20
    Jfp says:

    Huh, so Romney used to live part-time in a Thomas Kinkaid painting. Somehow I am not surprised at all.

  21. 21
    sfinny says:

    Given the picture, I have to guess that ten or so of my apartments may fit in that house. Given that I got a pretty good deal.

  22. 22
    barath says:

    Dennis – brilliant post. Thanks for digging up that history, which I’ve never seen reported anywhere else. Hope you post this far and wide.

  23. 23
    katie5 says:

    @Jfp: Hysterical and so appropriate for its imbued Republican-ness.

    And deux fois @barath: an excellent post

  24. 24
    Little Boots says:

    the big money is in government contracts. I think this actually started about 100 years ago, and we’ve all been bitching about it ever since. insincerely.

  25. 25
    Little Boots says:

    we buy into this false dichotomy, private sector, public sector, and yes, we on the left do buy in, and it’s all kinds of false.

    it’s like we’re all playing this game together.

  26. 26
    Narcissus says:

    Is that where Mitt keeps his RealDoll harem

  27. 27
    Little Boots says:

    oh, well, the important thing is, tina:


  28. 28
    Little Boots says:

    dennis is awesome, and cares about history. which is unusual.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Little Boots says:

    it’s quiet.

    TOO quiet.

  31. 31
    Little Boots says:

    it’s quiet.

    TOO quiet.

  32. 32
    MikeJ says:

    Whoo hoo! Aug 1st I’m going to be on LSD! LSD-52, the USS Pearl Harbor. Finally got my application back from Seafair, and I get to ride in the parade of ships. I’ve often shot the parade, but this year I get to ride in it. Six hours underway and another on either side, but a cool day nonetheless.

  33. 33
    MikeJ says:

    Whoo hoo! Aug 1st I’m going to be on LSD! LSD-52, the USS Pearl Harbor. Finally got my application back from Seafair, and I get to ride in the parade of ships. I’ve often shot the parade, but this year I get to ride in it. Six hours underway and another on either side, but a cool day nonetheless.

  34. 34
    Little Boots says:


    that sounds pretty cool. good for you.

  35. 35
    James E. Powell says:

    The big money is government contracts and government-backed projects. That way, if things don’t work out, neither you nor any of your friends lose money. But if things do work out, capitalism bitches!

  36. 36
    MikeJ says:

    @MikeJ: Grr. I only hit post once, and it timed out, and I intentionally didn’t tell it to post again not wanting a double. FYWP.

    But at least I’m not the only one. Perhaps that’s why it’s quiet. Nobody can get through.

  37. 37
    Little Boots says:

    @James E. Powell:

    we need a third phrase. private sector, public sector. it’s just … insufficient.

  38. 38
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Little Boots: Yep, 100 years ago, more or less. Look into Credit Mobilier and the transcontinental railroads.

    Socialize the infrastructure, privatize the profits. It’s the history of Florida, and a heck of a lot of other places. It’s the Brother-in-Law on the zoning board. It’s the developers contributing to the City Council race. Mitt just cranked it up a notch.

  39. 39
    jl says:


    I think the blog, or FYWP looks for self incriminating posts and flags them for doubles.

    I will watch for your report on your LSD trip.

  40. 40
    Little Boots says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    exactly, and I don’t think we on the left have found the right vocabulary yet. we kind of play along, arguing about the size of government, when that is completely beside the point.

  41. 41
    Little Boots says:

    what? everyone doesn’t wanna discuss political philosophy at midnight?


  42. 42
    cmorenc says:

    Deer Valley is designed to cater to the uber-rich who enjoy their snow manicured just-so and lift attendants who fawn all over skiers. None of this unruly ungroomed snow skied on by ski bums with duct-tape holding their wind-shells together like at Alta.

  43. 43
    NotMax says:


    Moguls for moguls?

  44. 44
    James E. Powell says:

    I remember trying to get this basic point across, that rich people make a great deal of money either directly from the government, or by using the government to increase the value of their holdings, back in the days before the supreme court appointed the Bush/Cheney Junta.

    Bush made a ton of money when his share of the Texas Rangers became more valuable when the taxpayers built a ballpark and the government gave them more land than they needed for the ballpark and built infrastructure for it.

    Not one of the people to whom I explained this saw the least thing wrong with it.

  45. 45
    Narcissus says:

    Y’know if you really wanna ask who built that chateau in the picture I bet a lot of them were hispanic.

    This was back before he was running for president for pete’s sake.

  46. 46
    katie5 says:

    To further belabor my point, from Jake Tapper’s ABC blog post: Star of Romney ‘My Hands Didn’t Build This’ Ad Received Millions in Government Loans and Contracts, Jack Gilchrist

    “I’m not going to turn a blind eye because the money came from the government,” Gilchrest said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m getting some of my tax money back. I’m not stupid, I’m not going to say ‘no.’ Shame on me if I didn’t use what’s available.”

    via digby

  47. 47
    blehmann says:

    I thought that this was a Thomas Kinkade painting..seems appropriate.

  48. 48
    Ruckus says:

    Mittens is like that smell that lingers after a personal library room visit after a night of gin and tacos. It never seems to go away and it always reminds you that some things in life always leave a bad after effect.

  49. 49
    El Cid says:

    Built what?

  50. 50
    Joseph Nobles says:

    OT: Just saw this over at DU:


    1-800-FLOWERS held a photo contest of your pet in bunny ears. The winner (by voting on the Internet) got a free year of dog food. The winner in this case entered her service dog, but because the dog is on a special diet, she intended to donate the year’s worth of dog food to a rescue shelter. She asked all her friends to vote because of this.

    And she won. And when she gave the address of the shelter for 1-800-FLOWERS to ship the food to, they hemmed and hawed and finally told her that the prize was non-transferable. Nothing in the rules apparently stated this beforehand. And that since she’d requested to transfer the prize, her winnings were null and void.

    When 1-800-Flowers posted the contest it stated: ‘No clear Official Rules, Entry Frequency, Country Restriction, or Age Requirement’ and when Ashley told that to the representative He responded: “I’m sorry if the rules weren’t clearly stated, ma’am”; Ashley proceeded to ask him how can there be rules if non are stated, and if the company was clearly intent on not honoring the promised winnings for someone who entered the contest from the start advertising that she was going to give her winnings to an animal charity- she got a ‘yes ma’am’ in response.
    At that time Ms.Owen Hill asked if she could please speak with someone else, since she felt that speaking with this representative was not going to assist her in getting any answers. The representative did not give her any phone numbers- but gave her email addresses, which she has since written to several times and has gotten zero responses.
    Thousands of people, many of which who voted in the contest, have tried to contact 1-800-Flowers in response to this outcome. Any/all Facebook comments are deleted and no e-mails or phone calls are returned.

    I’ll never order from 1-800-FLOWERS again. This is astoundingly ludicrous on their part. Ship a skid of dog food to the damn shelter and call it a day? Fuck that noise.

  51. 51
    Joseph Nobles says:

    And do I get results or do I get results?


    After clicking to the main page, I just saw an update: 1-800-FLOWERS has already promised to send 2 year’s of food to the shelter.

    My work here is done.

  52. 52
    jenn says:

    @Joseph Nobles: No kidding! When you think about the gazillion of pet owners in this country, and how much $ they spend, plus the fact 800 flowers made over $700mill last year, their stand is really really stupid, just from a business perspective! I actually have to go buy condolence flowers tomorrow to send for a friend, and these folks are certainly out of the picture! I can understand not wanting the prize to be transferable, actually, but if that’s how they feel, they need to be up front, and not pull a retroactive romney. Give the shelter the dog food, then if they run the contest in the future make sure the rules, you know, are actually spelled out somewhere. Idiots.

  53. 53
  54. 54
    amk says:

    Good piece Dennis.

  55. 55
    Nicole says:

    @Joseph Nobles: Cool. Hooray for the power of Internet disapproval! I’ll still write an email, but now to thank 1-800-FLOWERS for doing the right thing.

    I imagine the refusal was due to tax issues- you have to pay taxes on prizes, so at the end of the year, who gets the tax liability? The shelter or the winner? Now, I imagine it’s a donation, so no tax bill due and if the shelter is a recognized charity, 1-800-FLOWERS will get a tax deduction. So win for everyone.

    Of course, that took me 2 minutes to figure out, while 1-800-FLOWERS apparently did the corporation version of “Durrrr” until the outcry was too great to ignore.

  56. 56
    Randy P says:

    @katie5: Got it. If a Republican gets money from the government, it’s “getting some of my own money back”. Even when that money exceeds what you paid in taxes, as we know to be true in many red states. And every nickel a Democrat gets is freeloading and a handout.

    How do these people even tie their own shoes?

  57. 57
    Terry says:

    @MikeJ: I served on LSD-19 during Vietnam. It was unfortunately named the USS Comstock. A year after I left and joined the UDT, my team was carried by LSD-19 for a couple of months. It’s more pleasant being cargo :)

    I hope you really enjoy it.

  58. 58
    Citizen_X says:


    Aug 1st I’m going to be on LSD! LSD-52, the USS Pearl Harbor.

    I’ve heard LSD-25 is better.

  59. 59
    Ben Cisco says:

    Awesome job, Dennis.

  60. 60
    Chris says:


    The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending, with the exception of the money spent on THEM. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what the movement is all about. (Matt Taibbi, 2010)

  61. 61
    kd bart says:

    Not to mention that government projects in the first half of the 20th century brought cheap electricity that portion of the country making them inhabitable.

  62. 62
    Quincy says:

    Great post. I hope it gets linked elsewhere.

  63. 63
    WereBear says:

    @Joseph Nobles: Thank you for bring this to our attention. Despite the cave, 1-800-FLOWERS is still off my list.

    I have been trying to transition into more local buying whenever I can; your local florist can send flowers anywhere. And from what I understand, 1-800-FLOWERS gives you those low prices by sending half dead stuff.

    If that’s not the sentiment you wish to convey, buy local and non-corporate.

  64. 64
    paulfl says:

    THe bottom line is that Mitt Romney doesn’t understand how America works or how the American economy works. Or else he does and he is simply lying for political advantage (shocking!). That Massachusetts business Mitt used as his personal partisan backdrop to attack Obama for his “build” comment solely exists thanks to federal government contracts and government subsidies. The guy started that business with government grants and tax breaks. What conservatives choose to ignore is the overwhelming role government and public institutions play in propping up the nation’s economy and doling out billion-dollar favors to the infallible “private sector” that allows them to survive. — Principled Progressive

  65. 65
    gene108 says:

    In 2009 he sold it for a almost $5.25 Million.

    $5.25 Mil? What the fuck is Mitt Romney doing living in a slum like that?

    No wonder he doesn’t want to release his tax returns. His, if he lives with the poor shits, who can’t afford $10 mil+ palatial estates.

    I mean, fuck, look at the picture. It’s just a glorified row house.

  66. 66
    ice9 says:

    Good work but please stop capitalizing ‘billion.’


  67. 67
    Dennis G. says:

    @ice9: OK

  68. 68
    Chris says:


    It’s an ironic thing I’ve noticed about both communist and capitalist societies. In Cuba, the economy is supposed to be publicly owned and run, but the authorities allow a black market to exist in order to meet the demand that the legal economy can’t or won’t satisfy. In the West, we regularly allow the capitalist system to fly itself off the road, and every time it does the government is there with a helpful hand and a bailout to get it back on its feet, lest people have to suffer the consequences for capitalist economics.

    Both systems stay afloat (and maintain their legitimacy in the eyes of the public) only by extensively violating their founding principles.

  69. 69
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    I’m guessing that those suckers at Ampad are the ones who really built that. Thanks to the consulting fees they paid to one Mitt Romney to turn their successful iconic business around – and he sure did. He turned it from a company that was realizing 53 percent compound growth per year to one which went bankrupt. That’s expertise worth paying for right there.

  70. 70
    liberal says:

    Taxpayers put up the money that gave the land its worth.

    Paging Henry George…

  71. 71
    NCSteve says:

    If Utah was a state worth going to during a presidential campaign, and it isn’t, that development would make an excellent backdrop for a speech about how government-funded infrastructure powers private sector wealth creation.

    So, does the thing have its own internal tram line or did the Romneys actually do something so plebian as climb stairs to negotiate that slope?

  72. 72
    Betsy says:

    @Randy P: Look, it’s easy, your thick head is just too thick. If a white person succeeds, it’s because they’re favored by God and know how to work hard. If a conservative person is poor, it’s because their hard-won earnings are being confiscated by the Government and handed over to brown people. If a brown person succeeds, it’s because of reverse racism and favoritism. If a brown person is poor, it’s because they don’t have a work ethic. If a liberal is rich, they’re an arugula-eating elitist; if a conservative is rich, they’re to be credited for striving for the American dream. If a liberal is unemployed, they’re a whiner, get a JOB! If a conservative is unemployed, it’s because the job was given to an undeserving brown person, or because Obamakkkare.


  73. 73
    Chris says:



    Fantastic system, really. It allows them to never, ever be responsible for their misfortunes, because they’re always someone else’s fault.

  74. 74
    Dennis G. says:

    @Betsy: Brilliant.

  75. 75
    katie5 says:

    @Randy P: I hadn’t even thought about. “It’s my money if I as a Republican take money from the government.” Works for defence contractors. But if it’s “I, as a Democrat, take or ask for money from the government”, I’m asking for free stuff. I guess Democratic taxes go into a special bucket we don’t know about?

  76. 76
    slag says:

    Excellent post, dengre. Very useful!

  77. 77
    Catpause says:

    Very well done! Gold journalism stars for you today.

  78. 78
    fraught says:

    This is the sort of reporting I’ve been looking for. An examination of Romney and the Olympics. What was in it for him, really? As the man said, follow the money. He was not doing it for any other reason.

  79. 79
    Captain C says:

    @Citizen_X: Would that be the USS Albert Hofmann?

  80. 80

    I enjoyed this post, and I’ll just add something that I think has been given too little attention: that Romney’s father asked the government to break up his competitors in the late fifties, because he sensibly felt a company with a monopoly position was detrimental to the market, consumers and producers both.

    So, this is a man who not only benefited from the government building stuff, but whose father had no problem asking the government to breaking other people’s stuff.

    I have some association with this site, so it might fall under link pimping – I leave it to the mods’ discretion.


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