Although Romney’s membership in the Mormon church has often been discussed as a potential political liability, he has taken deliberate steps to turn his affiliation with the church into a fundraising asset. He has tapped wealthy Mormon donors including the Marriott family, founders of the hotel chain, and Jon M. Huntsman Sr., whose family made a fortune in plastics packaging. Last year, for example, Huntsman and his sons gave more than $100,000 to political action committees set up to lay the groundwork for Romney’s campaign. A handful of other Mormons have done so as well. They made the contributions through a chain of federal and state committees Romney set up that allowed donors to contribute the legal limit of $5,000 to each one. Residents of Utah, the center of the Mormon church, contributed about 15 percent of the total contributions, more per capita than any other state. Last fall, officials of the Romney campaign met privately with a senior leader of the Mormon church about reaching out to the 6 million Mormons around the country. The Boston Globe reported that Romney campaign officials also contacted officers of the church’s school, Brigham Young University, where Romney attended college. Two deans of the university’s business school later sent an e-mail message to 150 supporters and alumni soliciting donations for the campaign, the newspaper reported. Tax laws bar churches and other tax-exempt charitable groups from partisan politics. The church and the Romney campaign both issued statements denying any effort to enlist the church in supporting the campaign. A spokesman for the Mormon church said the meeting was a “courtesy visit,” and that Brigham Young had said the two deans acted inappropriately. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign said Monday that it had raised $20 million during the first quarter, tapping two distant but rich networks – Wall Street and the Mormon church – to easily outpace his better known Republican primary rivals. Sen. John McCain, the Arizona lawmaker once considered the front-runner, brought in $12.5 million, his campaign said. It was an unexpected shortfall that could hamper his momentum, and his campaign acknowledged disappointment. Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s campaign said it raised about $15 million. Both figures would have set records in previous years, but on Monday, they were dwarfed by the money raised by Romney and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who brought in $26 million. Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Romney, said the total was “indicative of the extraordinary success he has had reaching out and discussing important issues with the American people.” Madden credited an online system – called “com-Mitt” – that the campaign had set up for volunteer fundraisers to e-mail information and solicitations to their friends and associates. Still, polls show that Romney remains relatively little known outside Massachusetts, where he was elected governor in 2002; the business world, where he delivered hefty returns for investors in Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded; and in Utah, where he has played a prominent role in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and helped oversee the 2002 Olympics.