Bid files show Orrin Hatch helped court Olympic VIPs


SALT LAKE CITY, AP

Whether he was helping arrange travel visas, U.S. educations or Washington tours for International Olympic Committee members and their children, Sen. Orrin Hatch was a powerful supporter of Salt Lake’s Olympic bid. His name popped up several times in an avalanche of bid documents released last week by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Hatch, R-Utah, refused to be interviewed about his role in helping secure the 2002 Winter Olympics for Salt Lake City. His spokesman, Christopher Rosche, said Hatch offered the same help for the Salt Lake bid that he does for thousands of constituents. “He has nothing to hide,” Rosche said. “He’s been very open in this about the fact that he tried to do everything he could ethically and legally to help bring the Winter Games to Salt Lake City.” Nearly 10,000 pages of bid correspondence released last week show Salt Lake’s bid executives asked Hatch several times for favors for several International Olympic Committee members. Hatch was asked to meet with the president of Howard University in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the son of Lamine Keita, the member from Mali. In November 1993, Frank Joklik, chairman of the Salt Lake bid committee, wrote Hatch saying that Moriba Keita had applied to Howard but hadn’t learned if he would be accepted. Joklik also asked Hatch if the senator could help Keita get a legitimate scholarship. The bid committee ended up paying more than US$97,000 for Keita to get a bachelor’s degree in finance at Howard. After his graduation, the bid committee arranged an internship for Keita at First Security Bank in Salt Lake City. Bank president Spence Eccles was a bid trustee and remains on the SLOC board. Lamine Keita was expelled from the IOC because of his son’s scholarship.Hatch also was enlisted to help secure a visa for Bold Magvan, the son of Mongolian IOC delegate Shagdarjav Magvan, and the bid committee arranged a job for the son at First Security Bank. There is no indication Hatch helped obtain the visa, although Rosche said it would not be unusual for him to do that. The elder Magvan was issued a “serious warning” by the IOC over a scholarship for his son at the University of Utah and the bank job. In October 1994, Hatch met with Mohamed Mzali, the former prime minister of Tunisia. Bid president Tom Welch had asked Hatch to arrange special tours of the White House, Supreme Court, and the U.S. Capitol for Mzali. Welch also asked the senator to set up a meeting for the IOC member with then-Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas, a photo-opportunity with Vice President Al Gore and an interview with The Washington Post. The documents do not contain Hatch’s reply to all these requests. A etter from Mzali, however, thanked Hatch for twice meeting with him and listening to his complaints about political repression in Tunisia. Mzali had been forced to flee his country in the mid-1980s. Rosche said Hatch would arrange Washington tours and travel visas for any constituent who asked. Hatch also may have been involved in helping obtain a green card for the son of powerful South Korean IOC executive Kim Un-yong. “I have the assurances of Senator Hatch that he will do everything required to make the Green Card an appropriate success or he will acquire the same results by introducing a special bill,” Welch wrote to John Kim in 1990. John Kim was indicted in 1999 for immigration fraud. Bid leaders are accused of arranging a no-show job for Kim that was used to get the green card.