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TheStreet Open House

Romney May Have Cronyism Issues Too

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It appears Mitt Romney could be guilty of the same cronyism he's been criticizing Barack Obama for.

Romney's campaign has already slammed the president this week for supposedly giving federal grants and loan guarantees to political supporters. For example, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli cited the $500 million loan the White House gave to now-bankrupt Solyndra and government loans that First Solar (FSLR) received in a press conference on Monday.

And Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement on Monday that the president's favors to political supporters were "Chicago-style economics."

But BuzzFeed has now unearthed a November 2006 Boston Globe report that notesthen-Gov. Romney Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom was the recipient of a Brookline Housing Authority position as part of the more than 200 appointments Romney filled before he left office in January 2007.

Oddly enough, it also appears that Fehrnstrom donated $1,000 to Democratic Senator John Kerry's primary campaign in 2001.

Fehrnstrom gave two $500 donations in 2001 to the Kerry Committee. The committee was the name of Kerry's regular Senate re-election campaign in 2002, according to Whitney Smith, Kerry's spokeswoman.

Before joining Romney's 2002 gubernatorial campaign, Fehrnstrom worked as a reporter for The Boston Herald. He was known there for successful articles against prominent Democrats, such as then-Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis in 1988 and then-lieutenant governor Evelyn Murphy in 1989 who unsuccessfully ran to succeed Dukakis as Massachusetts's governor, according to a GQ profile about Fehrnstrom .

FEC records show that an Eric Fehrnstrom of Chestnut Hill, Mass., without a listed employer, donated $500 to the Kerry Committee on June 30, 2001. An identical contribution from an individual with the same name living in Chestnutt sic. Hill, Mass. was sent to the Kerry campaign on Dec. 5, 2001. The FEC filing lists Fehrnstrom's employer as "Hill Holyday" under his second contribution.

Hill Holyday is misspelled from Hill Holiday, the marketing and advertising agency where Fehrnstrom worked as the senior vice president for corporate communications. The Romney aide worked there until Massachusetts elected Romney for governor, according to The Shawmut Group Web site .

The Romney campaign could not immediately be reached for comment about Fehrnstrom's possible donations to Kerry in 2001.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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