Olympics ticket broker to co-host Romney fundraiser

WASHINGTON Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:22am IST

U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers foreign policy remarks at Mishkenot Sha'anamim in front of the Old City of Jerusalem, July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers foreign policy remarks at Mishkenot Sha'anamim in front of the Old City of Jerusalem, July 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Olympics ticket broker whose company apologized last week for distribution problems at the London Games is co-hosting a fundraiser for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Indiana this week.

An invitation to the fundraiser in Evansville, Indiana, scheduled for Saturday, lists Sead Dizdarevic, founder and owner of the ticket-selling companies Jet Set Sports and CoSport, as one of 24 "event co-chairs."

The invitation lists ticket prices for the fundraiser ranging from $2,500 for a "Minute Man contributor" to $75,800 for "Romney Victory Max Out Contributor."

The invitation, for what is described as a reception at the home of Steven Chancellor, a coal mining executive, also lists as hosts Indiana native and former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle and U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Listed as "celebrity guests" for the event are actress Bo Derek and actor Ricky Schroder, both of whom have been active in Republican Party politics.

Precisely how Dizdarevic will be involved in the event is unclear. The Romney campaign did not responded to e-mails requesting comment and a representative of Jet Set and CoSport had no immediate comment.

Last week, a woman who answered the phone at Jet Set Sports' head office in Far Hills, New Jersey, said that Dizdarevic was in London for the Olympics, where his company CoSport was designated by the United States Olympic Committee and several other national Olympic committees, including those of Canada and Australia, as an "authorized ticket reseller" for the Games.

Last week, CoSport apologized for delays that forced some customers arriving in London to spend up to six hours lined up in sweltering heat to collect their tickets. The company also said that it was "very sorry" that some customers had not received the bloc seating ticket arrangements they had requested.

Dizdarevic, the owner of CoSport and Jet Set Sports, was a figure in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics scandal that led to Romney's successful takeover of the running of those games.

The scandal focused on allegations that Salt Lake officials bidding to lure the Olympics there had spent millions of dollars on gifts, cash payments and other benefits for IOC members involved in deciding whether to award the Games to Salt Lake City.

The scandal also involved payments that prospective vendors made to Salt Lake Olympics officials. An indictment accused two officials of receiving $130,000 from Jet Set Sports, of which CoSport is a part.

The charges eventually were tossed out by a federal judge, but not before Dizdarevic testified against the suspects after receiving immunity from prosecution.

Afterward, Romney recruited Jet Set as a sponsor after he took over as chief of the Salt Lake Games, according to Mark Lewis, who worked on the Games as an aide to Romney.

Reports filed with the U.S. Federal Election Commission indicate that since last year, Dizdarevic, his wife and their company have contributed $200,000 to Restore Our Future, a political action committee, or PAC, that supports Romney's bid to oust President Barack Obama in the November 6 general election.

(Editing by David Lindsey and Cynthia Osterman)

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