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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Have you ever seen a Mitt Romney lookalike bobblehead doll? Or the parody video, since removed from the Internet, with former Republican candidate Jon Huntsman’s three daughters interviewing a nodding Mitt bobblehead?

This year, the Romney bobbleheads are marketed on the Internet, along with Barack Obama bobble-eads that are reportedly selling faster. But the original Mitt bobblehead first appeared four years ago and was produced—by Ann Romney’s brother at a factory in China—as a party favor for big donors.

When former Utah governor Jon Huntsman was still in the GOP presidential primary race last January, his three daughters “went rogue” and produced the video, with two of them donning  blonde wigs to imitate Fox News anchors, and “interviewed” a Romney bobblehead doll. As they studied their nails and asked sarcastic questions — “Governor Romney, people accuse you of being stiff. Do you agree?” — the bobblehead would rapidly oscillate, indicating yes or no.

If those dolls could talk, they might have a lot to tell about their country of origin and who made them there. Although Romney now complains frequently that China has unfairly “taken American jobs,” the Chinese bobblehead Mitts are yet another example of Romney’s propensity to invest in the People’s Republic—and to enrich family members such as Roderick Davies, his brother-in-law, who oversaw the creation of the dolls in China through a Utah company called Asian Sources, Inc.

Asian Sources was one of a string of failed businesses formed by Davies — Ann Romney’s older brother — in Michigan, Florida, Colorado and Utah, culminating in his bankruptcy in 2010. (Mitt Romney’s older brother, Scott, performed legal services for at least two of Davies’ failed ventures. Davies’ son and Mitt’s nephew, Ryan Davies, would eventually join Asian Sources, Inc. after leading a Utah alternative energy company into bankruptcy and being pushed out by the directors amid allegations of embezzlement, tax fraud and securities fraud.)

When Roderick Davies got the campaign doll deal, he already had the connections and experience to handle the job. Among other Asian outsourcing tasks, Davies had worked for Lifelike Doll Company, a Colorado firm that made custom dolls to look like the little girls who received them as gifts (just as bobbleheads are supposed to resemble specific individuals). Davies got that job, too, via Romney — and Bain Capital. After Davies allegedly helped run Lifelike into the ground, attempted a hostile takeover, and was sued by the company, he founded Asian Sources, the firm that went on to create and import Romney’s 2008 bobblehead dolls.