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Spencer Zwick, national finance chairman for Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, speaks at a campaign fundraising event at The Grand America in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Romney has several Utah power players in key spots

First Published Sep 22 2012 10:02 am • Last Updated Jan 07 2013 11:31 pm

Washington • Spencer Zwick and John Miller are there to make sure that Mitt Romney has enough money for his White House bid and Mike Leavitt is making sure he’s ready to move in.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz is turning out to be one of Romney’s top stand-ins and son Josh Romney is joining his brothers by fanning out across the country to boost their dad’s chances.

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While Utah’s vote for Mitt Romney is the closest thing in politics to a sure bet, a cadre of Utahns is intimately involved in the effort to install a Romney administration. These insiders are Romney’s Utah power players.

"Governor Romney has pulled together a team of people who he knows and trusts and who he believes are qualified to carry out the job to help get him elected in November," says Zwick, the national finance chairman of the Romney campaign.

While Utahns don’t dominate Romney’s Boston headquarters or make up a large share of his traveling entourage, they’re still in key spots as the campaign heads into the final weeks of a long slog.

Spencer Zwick • Zwick, a Salt Lake City native, was a Brigham Young University student when he volunteered in advance of the 2002 Winter Olympics to help translate documents and ended up as Romney’s special assistant, or body man, through the Games.

It was a big turning point for Zwick’s career as Romney later brought Zwick on board for his Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign and as Romney served as the state’s chief executive.

"We traveled together virtually every day," Romney said of Zwick in his book, Turnaround.

Later, Zwick, the son of LDS Church general authority W. Craig Zwick, would take on the role of national finance director, at age 28, and raise millions of dollars for Romney’s first presidential bid.

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"They couldn’t find anybody else," Zwick joked in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune in 2007.

Zwick enjoys a similar spot in Romney’s current bid — national finance chairman — and has been heralded in his ability to raise funds, so far more than $123 million. And he was instrumental in organizing a big-donor gathering earlier this year in Park City, where all of Romney’s top money people descended for a weekend of policy discussions and campaign planning.

Along the way, Zwick has earned a fortune from his connections to Romney. So far, Romney’s campaign has paid Zwick’s firm $9.55 million in consulting fees, making it one of the top vendors to the effort. And the Romneys themselves invested $10 million in Zwick’s start-up venture capital firm, Solamere Capital. The Romneys’ eldest son, Tagg, is a managing partner at the firm, which has raised more than $200 million. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Solamere’s partners said they expected to make $16.8 million in consulting fees during the next six years.

The Romney campaign, though, is the big focus now, and Zwick detailed in a recent interview how intimately involved he has become in the bid. His main job, he says, is raising money for the official campaign as well as the joint victory fund and managing a team of some 70 staffers and consultants across the country.

As someone close to Romney, Zwick also helps direct where the money is spent and participates in strategy discussions and decisions.

His Utah roots help, he says.

"Having spent time working on the Olympic organizing committee in Salt Lake City, I saw that there are ways to build a strong team of committed volunteers and supporters," Zwick said, noting he has tried to duplicate that with the campaign. "For the people of Salt Lake City, the 2002 Games became an important cause. Likewise, this campaign is turning from just a campaign to a cause."

Joining that cause is a longtime Romney friend: John Miller.

John Miller • Scrawled on one of the choicest seats at the Republican National Convention was a reserved sign for one of two people: Ron Kaufman, a Massachusetts Republican bigwig and close Romney adviser, and John Miller, a Hyrum, Utah, native who has been a top fundraiser for Romney for years.

Miller, chief executive of multibillion-dollar meat production giant, National Beef Packing, is co-chairman of Romney’s national finance campaign and has donated $120,750 to Romney and affiliated Republican groups in the past two years.

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