Olympic organizers reorganize
Atlanta Olympics chief suggested gifts for IOC membersFebruary 10, 1999
Web posted at: 10:32 p.m. EST (1832 GMT)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) -- Mitt Romney, the son of the late Michigan governor George Romney and a prominent Mormon, is expected to be named Thursday as the next head of the embattled Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
Romney's name will be presented on Thursday at a SLOC board meeting, in which members will vote on whether to accept him as their chief.
The SLOC has been rocked by the largest scandal in Olympic history. Members of its committee have been accused of ethical violations by doling out lavish gifts and cash to members of the International Olympic Committee and their families before Salt Lake City won the right to host the 2002 Winter Games.
An independent ethics report released Tuesday found that Salt Lake Olympic officials gave Olympic delegates thousands of dollars in gifts, ranging from appliances, luggage, doorknobs and free trips to the Super Bowl and Disneyland.
Romney, who attended Brigham Young University, is in Salt Lake City and is expected to attend Thursday's meeting.
Romney helped start Bain Capital Incorporated in Boston and ran against Democrat Ted Kennedy for the U.S. Senate in 1994, but lost.
Romney would replace Frank Joklik, who stepped down as SLOC's chief executive officer in January. Joklik has maintained that he was unaware of the violations during his tenure.
The man who led Atlanta's bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics said Wednesday that he considered, but never acted upon, some of the same type of questionable tactics allegedly used by SLOC.
Atlanta Games Chief Billy Payne even went so far as to draw up a list of potential gifts for IOC members who would vote on whether Atlanta would get to host the Games.
He outlined the gifts in a memo, just a month before Atlanta won the vote to host the Games. The note, titled "Personal Gift List," was addressed to Ginger Watkins, Payne's colleague on the Atlanta Olympic bid committee.
"It was out of desperation -- just an enumeration of all possible things. And as I said, they were never considered for implementation," Payne said.
The allegations surfaced earlier this week when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained a copy of the memo, dated August 20, 1990. Payne at first said the copy was a hoax, but admitted its existence when the original was found in boxes of Olympics papers stored at the Atlanta History Center.
"I was brain dumping, which is not uncharacteristic of me," Payne told the paper. "For every good idea I had, I had a thousand bad ideas."
On the list was a scholarship to the University of Georgia for the daughter of Pal Schmitt, the IOC member from Hungary.
Payne has recently said he thinks potential Olympic host cities giving scholarships to IOC family members would be unethical. But he said he must of considered this scholarship award because he knew Schmitt.
"When I become a good friend of someone, as I am of Pal Schmitt, I know his family, I know his children. It's a pleasure for me to develop those relationships and we did that. And that's exactly how we won," explained Payne.
For the Libyan representative, Bashir Mohammed Attarabulsi, Payne suggested free medical treatment. Attarabulsi recently resigned from the IOC after it was revealed that his son's education was allegedly paid for by the Salt Lake City's bid committee.
Atlanta's organizers said they spent $7 million on their successful bid for the Games. Over the course of the process they treated about 70 members of the IOC to personalized visits to the city.
Atlanta's bidding records are all being held at the Atlanta Historical Society. Payne, now an executive at a communications company, said Wednesday that he wouldn't release the records now for a variety of reasons -- including, he said, because the media misreads what some gifts mean.
"This was a private enterprise in its bidding stage. One that progressed fairly, equitably, and I believe honorably," Payne explained. "The state of the media today related to all Olympic gift-giving, whether permitted or not, is not rational, is not progressing on a solid line of authority or inquiry," said Payne.
Atlanta's organizers insist they did nothing that broke the rules.
"None of those suggestions, which could have been deemed inappropriate, were ever acted upon," Payne said.
Among the possible inducements mentioned in Payne's memo:
Top Salt Lake Olympic boosters condemned in ethics report
U.S. General Accounting Office
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