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Romney’s Campaign Is Mishandling The Politics Of The Bain Issue

Yesterday, Mitt Romney did a round robin of interviews which each of major television networks, as well as Fox News Channel and CNN, in an effort to address the questions that persist regarding his involvement in Bain Capital and its related entities:

Mitt Romney aggressively counter-punched against reports that he controlled Bain Capital for three years longer than he has previously claimed, giving five separate television interviews on Friday defending himself and slamming President Barack Obama’s campaign for alleging that he might be a “felon.”

An animated and sometimes irritated Romney conceded that he continued to nominally headBain Capital — the subject of relentless attacks against him by Democrats — after 1999 and had the option to return to managing the daily operations of the firm when the Olympics was over. He also stuck to his guns regarding his tax returns, saying he would release two years’ worth (2011 and 2010) and no more.

“I was the owner of an entity that is filing those information — that information, but I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999, not that that would have been a problem, to have said that I was with the firm beyond that, but I simply wasn’t,” Romney said on CNN.

On Friday night, Romney’s answers had already proved unsatisfactory to the Obama campaign.

(…)

[T]he presumptive GOP standard-bearer insisted that he took no active role in the company following 1999. Kicking off the latest round in the Bain wars, the Boston Globe reported on Thursday that Romney’s name appeared as CEO of Bain on Securities and Exchange Commission documents until 2002.

Romney took pains to try to distinguish owning the company from managing it, while at the same time not disparaging Bain.

“Well, there’s nothing wrong with being associated with Bain Capital, of course,” the Republican continued on CNN when pressed by interviewer Jim Acosta. “But the truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of ’99.”

The GOP standard-bearer also demanded an apology from President Obama after deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, labeled him a possible “felon” for allegedly misrepresenting himself on government documents.

“He sure as heck ought to say that he’s sorry for the kinds of attacks that are coming from his team,” Romney said on ABC. “It’s very disappointing on his part. It’s beneath the dignity of the presidency of the United States to go out and say the kind of things that are being said and even Democrats are saying that.”

The Obama campaign, however, doesn’t seem inclined to apologize:

“The Obama campaign is not satisfied with Romney’s answer. They still want to see Romney’s tax returns as well as minutes from Bain meetings,” NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker reported. From Obama’s camp, Welker said: “We expect the American people would want to see more information.”

(…)

On Friday, Obama joined the chorus of those calling on Romney to explain his time at Bain.

“My understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital and I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does,” Obama said in an interview with Washington D.C. television station WJLA, a sister company of POLITICO.

“If he aspires to being president, one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations, that’s probably a question that he’s going to have to answer and I think that’s a legitimate part of the campaign.”

The story that Romney told in last night’s television interviews was not essentially different from what the campaign has been saying for most of this week ever since these questions started being asked — that Mitt Romney ceased all involvement in the day-to-day affairs of Bain and its related entity in February 1999 when he left Boston to go run the Salt Lake City Olympics, a job he continued at for the next three years. As far as how and why his name continued to end up on SEC documents for these entities, Romney’s explanation seems to boil down to the fact that, even while he was in Utah, he remained the owner of, or a partner in, the various Bain entities. After Romney was finished with the Olympics, Romney and his partners wound down there relationship and went their separate ways.

That may all be true, and from everything I’ve been reading on the topic the suggestion that some on the left have made that there was something illegal going on here is largely baseless. The problem is that it is rather apparent that the Romney campaign isn’t doing a very good job of explaining all of this to the public. To the average person, and indeed to me, it doesn’t make sense that one would give up active control of a business and yet remain as the responsible party in SEC filings for the next three years, nor does it make sense that someone who isn’t actively working for a company anymore would receive a $100,000 per year salary nonetheless. There may very well be explanations for all of this, even if they are a bit difficult to explain easily, but so far the Romney campaign hasn’t done a good job at all of that, and neither did Romney in his interviews last night. As a result they’re keeping this story in the news cycle far longer than it ought to be, to Romney’s ultimate detriment.

The ironic thing is that we already have documents in front of us that would seem to provide the Romney campaign with something to point to that would go a long way toward taking the heat off, but they aren’t using them at all. In addition, the campaign is causing problems for itself by trying to spin the Bain story in a way that doesn’t seem to be supported by the documents when it seems fairly obvious that there is a completely reasonable, innocent, explanation for what happened at Bain after February 1999.

First of all, as I mentioned in my first post on this issue, we have the documents that Fortune obtained which showed that Romney’s name had been removed from Bain prospectuses after he left. Legally, this makes sense because if Romney was no longer involved in the active operation of Bain and not involved in managing the new funds being set up after 1999, then it would have been a serious violation of the SEC’s disclosure rules to represent otherwise to prospective investors. Thus, we have a contemporaneous document that actually supports Romney’s assertion that, after he left for Salt Lake City, he was no longer actively involved in the management of Bain. Romney mentioned these documents in passing last night, but it was a vague reference to documents without any explanation as to what he was talking about. Granted, these were short interviews but this strikes me as a highly relevant fact that the campaign would have wanted to emphasize.

Second, we have a press release from July 1999 that talks about what was going on at Bain at the time:

A July 19, 1999 press release distributed on behalf of Regan Communications and Bain Capital described Mitt Romney as the “Bain Capital CEO” and said he was “on a part-time leave of absence to head the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee.”

The press release, which announced the creation of a new private equity firm by two of Bain’s managing directors, included a quote from Romney giving his blessing to the new venture. “While we will miss them,” Romney said, “we wish them well and look forward to working with them as they build their firm.”

Here’s the relevant paragraph from the press release:

Bain Capital CEO W. Mitt Romney, currently on a part-time leave of absence to head the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee for the 2002 Games said, “Geoff and Marc have each made very significant contributions to the growth of our business, and have played important roles in furthering its success. In particular, Geoff, who helped us to start Bain Capital played a key role in building our franchise and led several of our highly successful transactions. Marc brought extensive capital markets expertise to the firm, where he co-headed our mezzanine efforts and played a critical role in conceiving and helping to start Sankaty Advisors, our high yield asset business, which now has over $ 2 billion under management. While we will miss them, we wish them well and look forward to working with them as they build their firm.”

The idea that Romney took a leave of absence from Bain when he left to go take over the Olympics (something that happened, it’s worth noting, on very short notice) is one that has been suggested before and, under the circumstances, it seems like the most reasonable explanation for what happened, at least in the beginning. Most likely, it seems to me, Romney started out on a leave of absence and then, as it became clear that his time in Salt Lake City was going to become a long-term commitment, the parties began developing plans for Romney’s departure. Indeed, it was not until 2002, after the Olympics, that Romney’s severance deal was finalized and the parties came to terms on a manner in which to most effectively divest Romney’s ownership of the Bain entities.

So, why isn’t the campaign pointing this out? Why are they insisting on making the hyper-technical, and to many people non-sensical, argument that Romney had ceased his active role in Bain in 1999 without explaining what they mean by that? Most people, I think, would understand quite easily what a leave of absence is all about, why it was taken, and how it evolved into an eventual departure. It’s the kind of explanation that would make the SEC filings make perfect sense as well since, part-time or not, Romney was still CEO and still required to certify the filings to the SEC and the filing wouldn’t be false at all since Romney was, in fact, still the CEO. Instead of this, though, the campaign is choosing to insist on a bright line “departure in 1999″ story that is starting to make less and less sense the more documents are made public.

The obvious answer to these questions, of course, is that the Romney campaign responded to the Obama’s “offshoring” allegations by saying that Romney had left Bain by the time those events had occurred, which just happens to be within the 1999-2002 time frame. Thus, here we are with people uncovering SEC documents and press releases trying to prove, 13 years after the fact, what Romney’s role at Bain may have actually been. Personally, I don’t think the whole “offshoring” issue is nearly the problem the Obama campaign and its surrogates make it out to be, but I can understand why the Romney camp would want to avoid having it hung around their neck, thus they drew a line in the sand. In doing so, however, they created another problem for themselves that they have yet to find an answer to. If they’d just been clear from the beginning, they likely wouldn’t be in this situation

As I noted earlier this week, every day that the Romney camp has to spend answering questions about Bain Capital is a day that they don’t get to spend talking about the economy or advancing their own campaign strategy. Yesterday’s interviews by Romney were no doubt intended to put the issue to rest, but I’m fairly sure they didn’t accomplish that, and that both the media and the Obama campaign will continue to peck away at this story as much as they can.  The Romney camp will either have to revisit this issue soon, and answer the questions completely, or they’re going to find themselves stuck in the weeds of Bain Capital as we head into the two weeks of the Olympics when many people will put politics aside. After that, it’s going to be much harder for them to get past first impressions.

I stand by the conclusion I reached Thursday that there’s no real wrongdoing here, but the Romney campaign has handled this badly and they have only themselves to blame for the bad press they’re getting.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    I don’t know why Romney doesn’t just wheel out who was the CEO from 1999-2002 if he wasn’t.

    The reason that we’re going to keep hearing this until november is that even GOP voters sour on Mitt when its brought up that he was in charge of a investment/VC/equity firm. You’re going to hear “bain” more then in the next batman movie(Bane is the villan).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  2. I don’t think Obama or anyone on his team really believed wrongdoing, or felony. They just used that to press the SEC filings. They said “either you lied on the filings, committing a crime, or you were really involved.”

    That strategy worked in that folks like you now acknowledge that the transition was longer than the crisp line, and stretched pretty much 1999-2002.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  3. BTW, it’s funny that Romney kind of says “I’m not ___, not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

    Where his ___ was “in charge of Bain.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  4. al-Ameda says:

    So, he’s still confused as to who was the CEO of Bain from 1999 to 2002?
    Why doesn’t he just ask himself that question?
    Seriously, he’s becoming a parody of himself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  5. C. Clavin says:

    The biggest thing is that he did nothing to change the topic of conversation.
    It’s political malpractice.
    And it let’s the Obama campaign do this:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/14/obama-ad-firms-slams-romn_n_1673112.html
    An instant classic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Romney’s Campaign Is Mishandling The Politics Of The Bain Issue

    Definitely. In other news the sun rose this morning in the east.

    It’s a Republican campaign. Like every Republican campaign it’s run by people who mean well but who really don’t get it. It’s a function of demographics. Private schools and country clubs. Suburbs.

    A Democrat vs. Republican campaign for the presidency is like matching a back alley brawler with a pianist, in a fist fight.

    As for the whole $100k non-issue, there are several potential explanations, which might include a contract or some deferred compensation or a stipend. Ultimately it doesn’t matter. The conceptual answer is a lot more important, but for obvious reasons is something against which liberals in the media will fight tooth and nail. When a company executive is providing something of value to a company — whether present or absent, exercising managerial control or not — the company remunerates said executive. It’s that simple. When your CEO goes off to save a domestic Olympics he’s providing value to the company in the forms of publicity and goodwill. You pay him for that. Again, simple.

    Lastly, the one saving grace for Team Romney in all this is that it truly is political silly season and nobody on Main Street knows or cares about this kerfuffle. The people who’ll decide November’s election are busy with soccer practice, cookouts and getting their kids off to summer camps. They’re not watching the scream and shout brigades on cable TV. No matter how OCD the liberal media gets on this issue it won’t affect the ultimate outcome of the election. Zombieland wouldn’t know the difference between a corporation and a corpse and when you’ve just been laid off and are about to be foreclosed out of your home and you’re standing in the ballot booth you’re not going to be thinking about SEC and FEC filings.

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  7. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Most likely, it seems to me, Romney started out on a leave of absence and then, as it became clear that his time in Salt Lake City was going to become a long-term commitment, the parties began developing plans for Romney’s departure. Indeed, it was not until 2002, after the Olympics, that Romney’s severance deal was finalized and the parties came to terms on a manner in which to most effectively divest Romney’s ownership of the Bain entities.

    I think Steve Kornacki got it right.

    When Romney agreed in early 1999 to run the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, there was no reason for him to think he’d jump right back into politics when the games were over – and every reason for him to assume he’d return to his private equity work. In fact, by 1999 he’d already taken two similar leaves of absence, one to run Bain and Company in 1991 and 1992 and another when he campaigned for the U.S. Senate from November 1993 to November 1994. After each of those leaves, he came right back to Bain Capital.

    Romney now argues that February 1999 should be considered his exit date from Bain, and that he ceased to have any input into the company’s activities after that point. But it’s important to remember the circumstances under which he first made that claim.

    We tend now to think of Romney’s political rise as a seamless transition in 2002 from Olympic glory to the Massachusetts governorship. But his opening to run for office that year didn’t come about until very late in his Olympic tenure. Romney was clearly interested in a political future when he took the Salt Lake gig, but there were no opportunities on the horizon in Massachusetts. Both Senate seats were safely held by Democrats, while a Republican, Paul Cellucci, had just been elected to a full term, and there was reason to believe that he would run again in 2002. And even when Cellucci left in early 2001 to become ambassador to Canada, it still didn’t help Romney, since it was assumed the party would close ranks behind his successor, Jane Swift.

    It was only in late 2001, when Swift’s governorship began to implode, that running in 2002 became a serious option for Romney. And it was only in 2002 that Romney actually struck a severance agreement with Bain. Before Swift’s demise, Romney’s only other possible post-Olympic political opportunity had involved Utah’s governorship, which was possibly going to open up in 2004. In the summer of ’01, Romney took some tentative steps to put his name in the mix for that race, but it was still several years away and there were real questions about how viable he’d be if he ran.

    If the Governorship in Massachusetts hadn’t opened up, Romney would probably have gone back to Bain, and then if the Governorship in Utah had open up he would made a run for that instead, and depending on his chances either left Bain then or taken another leave of absence (as he did in 1993-94 when he ran against Ted Kennedy.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  8. C. Clavin says:

    Yes Tsar…it’s the liberal medias fault. How dare they not swallow far-fetched explanations?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  9. Moosebreath says:

    ” As far as how and why his name continued to end up on SEC documents for these entities, Romney’s explanation seems to boil down to the fact that, even while he was in Utah, he remained the owner of, or a partner in, the various Bain entities.”

    No, he signed the documents not as a shareholder of Bain, nor as a partner of Bain, but as the CEO.

    “Most people, I think, would understand quite easily what a leave of absence is all about, why it was taken, and how it evolved into an eventual departure. It’s the kind of explanation that would make the SEC filings make perfect sense as well since, part-time or not, Romney was still CEO and still required to certify the filings to the SEC and the filing wouldn’t be false at all since Romney was, in fact, still the CEO.”

    But if he were on a leave of absence (especially one expected to last for years), wouldn’t Bain have appointed an acting CEO to sign these documents while Romney worked tirelessly on the Olympics? Even the leave of absence theory, while it seems somewhat reasonable, has holes in it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  10. PJ says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And it let’s the Obama campaign do this:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/14/obama-ad-firms-slams-romn_n_1673112.html
    An instant classic.

    This might be the first time a Republican “artist” is going to demand that a Democratic politician removes his “performance” from an political ad. ;)
    I wonder if Romney will get any royalty money from this?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  11. @Moosebreath:

    But if he were on a leave of absence (especially one expected to last for years), wouldn’t Bain have appointed an acting CEO to sign these documents while Romney worked tirelessly on the Olympics?

    There is no requirement to. If Bain was an old boy’s club, he could take off, trusting his subordinates to take care of things. It could be a handshake deal at that point. That would take trust on his part, because as CEO he would be on the line with the SEC and others for their actions, but he could do it.

    One thing that is strange though is that through this period Bain was fully owned by Romney, and we hear about other “partners.” That word is normally used for equity holders, and as I understand it, they did not gain ownership until the 2002 agreement.

    So those folks running things 1999-2002 were more like subordinates, probably with profit-sharing agreements.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. Moosebreath says:

    @john personna:

    “There is no requirement to. If Bain was an old boy’s club, he could take off, trusting his subordinates to take care of things. It could be a handshake deal at that point. That would take trust on his part, because as CEO he would be on the line with the SEC and others for their actions, but he could do it.”

    Not disagreeing with this, but that hardly strikes me as being a prudent business person, which is after all what Romney is running as.

    I also like Josh Marshall’s take on this:

    “This is ‘bitch slap’ politics played with a gusto and coldness seldom seen from Democrats, at least since the Bill Clinton days. Asking for an apology is losing. Saying you want something you clearly have no power to get is losing.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  13. What gets me is that Romney doesn’t see how bad the optics on this are. It’s politics 101 that even if your opponent does something they ought to apologize for, standing around demanding one just makes you look weak and whiny, and then when you inevitably don’t get it you look ineffectual too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  14. PJ says:

    Mommy, mommy, Obama says nasty things about me. Mommy, please make him stop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  15. @Moosebreath:

    Not disagreeing with this, but that hardly strikes me as being a prudent business person, which is after all what Romney is running as.

    That in itself might speak well of him on human terms. He had a good relationship with these guys. They trusted him and vis-versa. He was willing to retain top position and be on the line for their behavior.

    See … this is another way it is misplayed. The good relationship he had with the Bain bro’s is stretched too far, to make it like “oh no, I was completely gone … who where those guys, anyway?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Are you trying to tell me that Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, Chuck Colson and the Swiftboaters went to Groton, drink tea with their pinkies raised and fight by the rules?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  17. bk says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Um, what is this “liberal media” of which you so often speak? I’ll wait.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  18. al-Ameda says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    Are you trying to tell me that Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, Chuck Colson and the Swiftboaters went to Groton, drink tea with their pinkies raised and fight by the rules?

    To quote my dearly departed mother, “but they seemed to be such nice young men.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. gVOR08 says:

    I think Kornacki, as quoted by PJ, has it right. Romney intended to come back to Bain, and made arrangements to maintain his ownership and control, until he changed his mind in late ’01. Given this, is it likely he was hands off through that period, that major deals were made without his blessing? Phones to Utah worked pretty good back in the dark ages of 1999. Why we even had email. And wouldn’t that make entertaining reading.

    Doug – I believe the 100K figure comes from a checkbox that read greater than 100K. For all we know he was getting 10 mil for supposedly doing nothing.

    I’m really impressed by Romney’s management skills. He seems to have always been completely in charge when good things happened and totally uninvolved when bad things happened. According to Romney.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @gVOR08:

    I’m really impressed by Romney’s management skills. He seems to have always been completely in charge when good things happened and totally uninvolved when bad things happened. According to Romney.

    Give him time, he’ll refute that too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  21. elizajane says:

    I think that Tsar Nicholas is probably right: the $100,000 was a kind of honorarium, everything was perfectly legal. Perfectly legal in the same way that storing your money in Switzerland and the Caymen Islands to avoid taxes, instead of say reinvesting in the United States, is perfectly legal. The problem is that what is perfectly legal for very very rich people is not appealing to the other 99.9%, most of whom don’t get a 6-figure salary for doing nothing whatsoever in their job (as he is claiming) and who have limits on how much money they can stash away in tax-free accounts.
    Romney has been playing by those special rules made for the ultra-rich and when asked about them, he really has nothing to say except “that’s just the way we DO it! It’s all perfectly legal and straightforward!”

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  22. Jr says:

    The Romney’s campaign incompetence has been evident since the primaries. They should have been ready to answer questions about Bain since 2010, they knew Obama was going to hit them hard on it and they have allowed him to define them and the election.

    Romney apparently staffed his campaign with “experts”……but they looked outclassed and outmatched against Obama, whom is quite frankly kicking their ass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  23. jan says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Lastly, the one saving grace for Team Romney in all this is that it truly is political silly season and nobody on Main Street knows or cares about this kerfuffle.

    As usual, Tsar, your pragmatic responses make the most sense. The only people this will resonate with are people looking for any irregularities in Romney. If it means making a big deal out of his tie not being straight, they will be inclined to attack his appearance. But, for now, they are thrilled to masticate and then regurgitate any and all matters that have to do with Bain, his wealth, his tax returns — it’s all about his money and attempts to create some kind of sordid paper trail or past to it.

    However, for the rest of us the emphasis will be about our money,confidence in ourselves, or the lack of it, because of the policies and enormous dependent society that Obama is attempting to create via growing the welfare state. I now understand Obama’s original comments about this country “not being exceptional.” It was less a statement of fact than a voiced intention of his goals, to bring people down to where they indeed were weak, divisive, demoralized, unemployed and beholding to him for even more government food stamps in order to put bread on their tables.

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  24. rudderpedals says:

    I know what “Leave of absence” and “part time” means but this “part time leave of absence” is awfully ambiguous. Has anyone encountered the term before to mean anything other than “still employed but part time for now?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  25. Mr. Prosser says:

    @jan: Jan, your comment is as good a summary of the campaigns and the election as Steven’s post is about the Bain arguments. Of course Romney will be hit on his money and how he handles it. Of course his proposed policies (or lack thereof) will be picked apart . He is going to get hammered all the way to November. As to your second paragraph, I disagree with everything you said and that’s what this election is about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  26. Raoul says:

    Sen. Reid said that Romney has not paid any taxes the last 15 years. Is he goading Romney? Perhaps, since surely Romney paid some taxes. However, the released tax year return probably has a higher rate (15%) of tax payment than the non-release years. The point is that Sen. Reid may be closer to the truth than we realize so it makes me wonder if the source of his information is someone from the McCain side.

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  27. jan says:

    Michael Ramirez creatively articulates the Bain distraction, as a means for Obama to deflect away from his own lies and failed policies.

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  28. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    I now understand Obama’s original comments about this country “not being exceptional.”

    Perhaps you could show us where Obama said America is “not exceptional.” You have a tendency to make things like this up, like you did the other day when you said HCR had originally been touted as “free health care.”

    So are you just flat out lying about this stuff, or have you simply bought into right wing urban myths?

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  29. al-Ameda says:

    @jan:

    It was less a statement of fact than a voiced intention of his goals, to bring people down to where they indeed were weak, divisive, demoralized, unemployed and beholding to him for even more government food stamps in order to put bread on their tables.

    Not to argue the details here but, you forgot to include the conspiracy to take way our guns, and the impending executive order to force women to have abortions.

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  30. @rudderpedals:

    Has anyone encountered the term before to mean anything other than “still employed but part time for now?”

    Actually, yes I have. My company uses a similar term for people who have retired, but whose knowledge the company still needs access to so is paying them to come to meetings from time to time. The distinction between this and a part time worker is that they have no defined job title or responsibilities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. :LaMont says:

    Doug,

    Fairness and legal does not always coexists.

    A great example of Romney’s problem boils down to why Romney only chooses to show his most recent tax forms. If the details are explained, even if they are totally legal – it would only give the masses a glimpse of just how biased policies are today for the wealthy and how much they really can get away with by taking advantage of them. Remember, Romney paying ~14% in taxes last year having earned north of $20 million did more to explain unfair but legal advantages of the tax code to the masses than anything else. I believe Romney absoluteluy do not want to explain the details of this Bain Capital mess becuase it would be easy pickings for not only the obama administration – but everyone else.

    As soon as the people realize that Romney is a candidate that potentially gained most of his success by taking advantage of policies that largely favors the wealthy, Why would they want to vote for him knowing that these policies are probably in his best interest. Could there possibly be any room for policies that are advantagous to them on this man’s agenda? Likely not!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  32. Argon says:

    Romney’s other problem with Bain over that period is Stericycle, the medical waste firm that also processed fetal remains. That isn’t playing well with his non-Wall St. base.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  33. rudderpedals says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Are they paid as W2 employees? I’m not trying to be argumentative, I’ve never encountered this.

    (I don’t believe Romney’s situation fits this fact pattern as the part time key man is on record both admitting and denying involvement post 99)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. mattb says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Not to argue the details here but, you forgot to include the conspiracy to take way our guns, and the impending executive order to force women to have abortions.

    But remember, he’ll only do that AFTER he’s re-elected and assumes total martial power* **… so vote Romney!

    * Of course it was promised that Obama would do these things immediately after he was elected the first time… But as with his ability to retroactively hide the details of his birth, the decision to put this off until after the next election was actually part of a four-dimensional chess game.

    ** – BTW this entire sort of apolocyptical predictions about what a sitting president will do to be elected or stay elected was stupid when liberals/dems were making similiar claims about GWB. It sounds equally stupid coming from the keyboards of so-called moderate conservatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  35. Herb says:

    @jan:

    “Michael Ramirez creatively articulates the Bain distraction, as a means for Obama to deflect away from his own lies and failed policies. “

    Sheesh….Obama’s such a jerk. Playing politics when he should be playing a nice friendly game of bean-bag…..

    Before Obama thinks about doing anything else, he should think about apologizing to the Romney campaign for trying to beat him in an election year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  36. mattb says:

    @jan:

    I now understand Obama’s original comments about this country “not being exceptional.” It was less a statement of fact than a voiced intention of his goals, to bring people down to where they indeed were weak, divisive, demoralized, unemployed and beholding to him for even more government food stamps in order to put bread on their tables.

    No offense, but if you were even remotely serious in writing this, you realize that you have voided all future rights to label yourself as a “moderate” conservative.

    Or frankly any sort of conservative who seriously opposes the excesses of your party.

    There’s tweaking noses. And then there is posting stuff that is as equally foolish and frankly ignorant to the point stupidity that simply saying it debases yourself and your party. Like calling Republicans Nazi’s and Fascists, imagining that a sitting democratic president is actively working to make the country fail is startlingly stupid.

    Regardless if you listen to them or not you’ve just demonstrated yourself a card carrying resident of the sad little island of LimbBeckistan, where everyone breaths through their mouth and openly prays for the president to fail.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  37. Jeremy R says:

    DM:

    To the average person, and indeed to me, it doesn’t make sense that one would give up active control of a business and yet remain as the responsible party in SEC filings for the next three years, nor does it make sense that someone who isn’t actively working for a company anymore would receive a $100,000 per year salary nonetheless.

    I don’t think that last bit is quite right. I think in the filings that reveal the salary there’s basically a box he checked that he was being paid at minimum $100K (my impression is it could be 10 million for all we know).

    http://bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/07/13/evidence-mounts-mitt-romney-continuing-ties-bain-after/w9vGMpkCKg1GaYdaU8l8GL/story.html

    Financial disclosure forms Romney filed in Massachusetts indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  38. jukeboxgrad says:

    jan:

    I now understand Obama’s original comments about this country “not being exceptional.”

    You’re doing that thing your dishonest pal Jenos does often: putting quote marks around words that aren’t actually a quote.

    You couldn’t possibly do a better job of proving that ‘conservatives’ are both stupid and dishonest. Thank you for your inadvertent public service, which is considerable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  39. jukeboxgrad says:

    And now this from Bloomberg:

    Mitt Romney is named as one of two managing members of Bain Capital Investors LLC in annual reports filed in Massachusetts as late as 2002, adding a new corporate entity to a growing number of Bain-related investments and funds that list the Republican presidential candidate as controlling the company three years after he said he left it.

    Drip, drip, drip.

    Here’s essentially what Mitt is telling us: ‘I see no problem with making false statements on official documents. On numerous occasions, I issued documents indicating that I was in charge of Bain after 2/99, even though I’m now claiming I wasn’t.’

    We already knew Mitt was a highly skilled liar, but now the examples are becoming more obvious, brazen and shameless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  40. jukeboxgrad says:

    There’s another issue that’s quite important, and I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere. Notice what Mitt said yesterday:

    CRAWFORD: But you were the sole owner? I mean, how should we be thinking about this? What was your role? You were the sole owner until 2002?

    GOV. ROMNEY: I was the owner of a, of the general partnership but there were investors which included pension funds and various entities of all kinds that owned the, if you will, the investments of the firm. But I was the owner of an entity which was a management entity. That entity was one which I had ownership of until the time of the retirement program was put in place. But I had no responsibility whatsoever after February of ’99 for the management or ownership – management, rather, of Bain Capital.

    Here’s a summary of the key words, which I highlighted: “I was the owner … but I had no responsibility whatsoever.”

    Imagine that there are no SEC documents showing that Mitt continued to be Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President after 2/99. Imagine that Mitt really stopped being those things as of 2/99. Mitt still has a big problem, because there is no doubt that he continued to be the sole owner of Bain Capital, even after 2/99.

    See, Mitt isn’t just saying ‘I wasn’t in charge even though I told the SEC I was in charge.’ That itself is a big problem, but he’s saying something even more bizarre and outrageous. He’s saying this: ‘I have “no responsibility whatsoever” for what the company did, even though I owned the company.’ Really? Really?

    What sane person can defend that claim? If you own a company, you’re responsible for what the company does. Period. This is a simple concept of law, morality, and common sense. It’s mind-boggling to hear Mitt claim that even though he was the sole owner of Bain Capital during this period, he had “no responsibility whatsoever” for what the company did. That’s the opposite of the truth. As sole owner, he had complete responsibility for what the company did.

    Notice what Obama said yesterday:

    I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does

    Correct, but Obama is understating the problem. Even if Mitt was not “chairman, CEO and president” of Bain, he was still fully responsible for what Bain did (after 1999), because he continued to be the sole owner.

    We’re learning a lot about Mitt’s concept of telling the truth, but we’re also learning about his concept of leadership and responsibility. Only someone utterly irresponsible could say ‘I have no responsibility whatsoever for what the company did even though I was the sole owner.’

    Notice that FactCheck tried to claim that Mitt was “a passive, absentee owner” (even though this requires them to completely ignore these words in the SEC filing: “Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President”). Trouble is, even “a passive, absentee owner” is fully responsible for what his company does, when he is the sole owner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  41. mattb says:

    On that same note… A number of the same conservatives talkers who trot out this “Obama doesn’t thin we’re exceptional” meme also had a lot of praise for the recent commencement speaker who told graduates that “they are not special.”

    It’s ironic that folks like that, on one side, have a knee jerk protection of the idea of American Exceptionalism, while at the same time love to tell folks (in particular teens and young adults) that they are anything but exceptional.

    I wonder where those teens and young adults got the idea they were exceptional in the first place?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  42. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    … that Mitt Romney ceased all involvement in the day-to-day affairs of Bain

    You’re glossing over the fact that Mitt’s denial was stronger than that. He said that he had “no role with regards to Bain Capital after February 1999.” That’s a complete and absolute denial, not just a denial about “the day-to-day affairs of Bain.”

    Thus, we have a contemporaneous document that actually supports Romney’s assertion that, after he left for Salt Lake City, he was no longer actively involved in the management of Bain.

    This is another instance of you pretending that Mitt only made a weaker assertion about “actively involved,” when in fact he made a much stronger and more absolute assertion.

    Why are they insisting on making the hyper-technical, and to many people non-sensical, argument that Romney had ceased his active role in Bain in 1999

    This is yet another instance of you pretending that Mitt only made the weaker assertion (“active role”).

    part-time or not, Romney was still CEO

    Which means he lied to us yesterday when he said he had “no role with regards to Bain Capital after February 1999.”

    the suggestion that some on the left have made that there was something illegal going on here is largely baseless

    There is no doubt that a crime was committed, because statements Mitt made to SEC contradict statements he made to FEC. Stephanie Cutter’s “felony” statement could have been even more forceful.

    we have the documents that Fortune obtained which showed that Romney’s name had been removed from Bain prospectuses after he left

    Was it removed from all “Bain prospectuses after he left?” Or just some? And had his name always appeared on all prior examples of such documents? The Fortune article is fairly worthless because it ignores these questions.

    Most likely, it seems to me, Romney started out on a leave of absence and then, as it became clear that his time in Salt Lake City was going to become a long-term commitment, the parties began developing plans for Romney’s departure. Indeed, it was not until 2002, after the Olympics, that Romney’s severance deal was finalized

    In other words, Mitt lied to the FEC. This is the statement he made to them: “Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999.”

    I stand by the conclusion I reached Thursday that there’s no real wrongdoing here

    In other words, lying on official documents and lying to us is “no real wrongdoing.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  43. @rudderpedals:

    Are they paid as W2 employees? I’m not trying to be argumentative, I’ve never encountered this.

    They were before they retired. Afterwards I don’t know what their pay arrangement is. They could technically be consultants.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  44. An Interested Party says:

    Michael Ramirez creatively articulates the Bain distraction, as a means for Obama to deflect away from his own lies and failed policies.

    I doubt that Jan or this cartoonist were as concerned when Bush was doing the exact same thing to Kerry that they are accussing the President of doing to Romney now…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  45. stonetools says:

    @ jukeboxgrad

    What Doug is doing is a classic defense attorney tactic, which is to present his client in the best light possible. Thus his client’s most defensible statements and actions are cherry-picked and presented as if they were his only statements, in the hope that the “bad” actions and statements are overlooked . Its a lot easier to defend the warm and fuzzy ” part -time leave of absence” than the categorical ” I retired in February 1999″.
    What does ” part-time leave of absence” mean anyway? To me the most natural interpretation is that while on a leave of absence he would scale his role at Bain back to from full-time to part-time executive. This means he would sign off on certain deals and guide the general direction of the company without going to every meeting and negotiating every deal. In these days of email, faxes, video meetings, and conference calls, this is not that difficult to do. It would explain his salary and his retention of titles a lot better than his denial of any connection to Bain after February 1999.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  46. jukeboxgrad says:

    Thus his client’s most defensible statements and actions are cherry-picked and presented as if they were his only statements, in the hope that the “bad” actions and statements are overlooked

    Exactly. This is an excellent description of what Doug is doing, and it also describes what certain ‘fact-checkers’ are doing.

    Doug is doing it because he’s a partisan and not too concerned about appearing objective. The ‘fact-checkers’ are doing it because they painted themselves into a corner by taking a strong position on this issue before all the important facts came out. They have decided to dig in their heels instead of admitting they were hasty and made a mistake.

    This means he would sign off on certain deals and guide the general direction of the company without going to every meeting and negotiating every deal.

    Common sense and lots of evidence indicates that this is what happened. Too bad Mitt decided he has to lie about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  47. stonetools says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Don’t you know the first rule of politics:

    IOKIYAAR

    The Democrats have learned well at the Atwater-Rove school of politics:

    1. Attack character, not policies.

    2.Go straight at an opponent’s strengths, and the weaknesses will take care of themselves.

    Mitt Romney’s great strength was supposed to be that he was supposed to be Mr. Super Fixit businessman, as shown by his feats of derring do at Bain All of a sudden its not a strength any more .
    It ain’t pretty and I would much prefer a policy debate, but the Republicans stopped playing the policy debate game a long time ago.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  48. Jay says:

    This is absurd. The media does shitty reporting and journalism basically just repeating what the Obama campaign tells them and then saying to Romney campaign, “What do you have to say about that?” instead of actually, you know….checking out the allegations and determining whether or not they are true.

    People often wonder why we need organizations like Politifact and FactCheck.org

    Simple. To do the job the media will not do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  49. anjin-san says:

    @ Jay

    Wow. Conservatives are… victims! I never knew. Thanks for opening my eyes, this has been a very informative and educational day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  50. de stijl says:

    @Jay:

    People often wonder why we need organizations like Politifact and FactCheck.org

    Simple. To do the job the media will not do.

    Politifact is a project run by the St. Pete / Tampa Bay Times. I think that qualifies as “the media.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  51. LCJP says:

    Give Mitt another shovel hes worn out the one he has!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  52. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    @mattb:

    Like calling Republicans Nazi’s and Fascists, imagining that a sitting democratic president is actively working to make the country fail is startlingly stupid.

    Matt, let’s not forget that it was conservatives who actively hoped for, and then cheered, Chicago failing to get the 2016 Olympic games. So it’s rather rich for them to now point the finger at Obama.

    But I guess that’s par for the course righties like Jan: forget what you said and did yesterday when it may conflict with what you say and do today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  53. al-Ameda says:

    @anjin-san:

    @ Jay
    Wow. Conservatives are… victims! I never knew. Thanks for opening my eyes, this has been a very informative and educational day.

    As you now know, conservatives are virtually wallowing in their claims of victimization. If it’s not the Liberal Media, it’s the Science Establishment, Unions, Universities and Colleges, Reverse Discrimination, Affirmative Action, the War on Christmas, George Soros, the Black Caucus, the Federal Reserve, Hollywood, Birth Control, Liberal Judges, Public Schools – and those are just a few.

    Conservatives are the most victimized people in America – it’s true, they’ve told us so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  54. An Interested Party says:

    People often wonder why we need organizations like Politifact and FactCheck.org

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If nothing else, this latest Romney folly has allowed conservatives to finally embrace organizations they previously derided as liberal media tools…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  55. wr says:

    @mattb: And to think it was just a week ago when you were trying to have a serious discussion with Jan and chiding me for treating her as a troll…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  56. Ajay Jain says:

    Two-Faced Willard

    “I was not responsible for what happened at Bain Capital” – Mitt Romney
    “I was the Sole shareholder, Sole director, Chief executive officer and President of Bain” – Mitt Romney

    “The Arizona immigration policy is a good model” – Mitt Romney
    “I didn’t really support the Arizona immigration policy” – Mitt Romney

    “The Massachusetts healthcare plan should be a model for the nation” – Mitt Romney
    “Healthcare reform should be left to the states” – Mitt Romney

    “Let Detroit go bankrupt” -Mitt Romney
    “I’ll take a lot of credit for saving the auto industry” -Mitt Romney

    “I believe Roe v Wade has gone too far.” – Mitt Romney
    “Roe v Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.” – Mitt Romney

    “I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose.” – Mitt Romney
    “I never really called myself pro-choice.” – Mitt Romney

    “It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam.” – Mitt Romney
    “I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and represent our country there.” – Mitt Romney

    “I’m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush.” – Mitt Romney
    “Ronald Reagan is… my hero.” – Mitt Romney

    “I think the minimum wage ought to keep pace with inflation.” – Mitt Romney
    “There’s no question raising the minimum wage excessively causes a loss of jobs.” – Mitt Romney

    “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.” – Mitt Romney
    “I did not see it with my own eyes.” – Mitt Romney

    “I would like to have campaign spending limits.” – Mitt Romney
    “The American people should be free to advocate for their candidates without burdensome limitations.” – Mitt Romney

    “I supported the assault weapon ban.” – Mitt Romney
    “I don’t support any gun control legislation.” – Mitt Romney

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  57. Ajay Jain says:

    On Friday the 13th (7/13/2012) the very illusive Mitt Romney gave very defensive interviews to all FIVE networks on a single day at once!! Just a few days ago Mitt Romney said to FOX News that explaining means that you are WEAK. So his five interviews “explaining” his time at Bain were signs of his weakness!!

    Presidential Candidate Mr. Mitt Romney maybe feeling the heat on his role in BAIN Capital, his business experience which was supposed to be his sole criteria for creating jobs and his greatest qualification for running for the American Presidency in the current economy in 2012!

    However SEC documents show Mitt Romney as sole owner of all shares of Bain Capital. Romney is shown as CEO, President and Chairman of Board of Bain Capital in 2001 and 2002 then LEGALLY speaking Mitt Romney has been responsible to all that goes on under the banner of Bain Capital.

    Mitt Romney can not just share the good like job creation from 1999 to 2002 and leave the ugly like Bankruptcies and layoffs behind as if he had nothing to do about them from 1999 to 2002.

    If he really wanted to disassociate himself from Bain Capital he could have resigned and sold all his shares in Bain Capital in February 1999 then it would have been a different matter but to share in the glory of Bain’s job creation accept a salary of $100,000 or MORE (where are the Tax Returns?) for three years and only to refuse to take the responsibility of Bankruptcies and layoffs on his WATCH (1999-2002) is trying to have it both ways and then complaining of playing politics having been caught with his hand in the proverbial Cookie Jar that is the very essence of an ACTIVE LEGAL ROLE in Bain Capital till 2002!! Was Romney getting $100,000.00 or more to do NOTHING for BAIN Capital???

    Mitt Romney will have to face the consequences of this leaving Bain “lie” that Mitt Romney has brought on upon himself. If we keep reminding the Romney campaign of the Bain exit lie and Romney’s ill effects on workers robbing them of their hard earned salaries and life long benefits all the way to November then 7/13/2012 (FRIDAY the 13th) will go down as the turning point of the 2012 Presidential election!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  58. Ajay Jain says:

    “Given the precedent set by past five Presidents of releasing multi-year tax returns why is Romney making an exception?”

    Because he has a lot to hide, apparently.

    He’s the only one that knows what’s in there, and apparently he’s made the judgement that he’s better off having us suspect the worst, rather than us knowing whats in there, which apparently in his mind is worse than anything we’re likely to imagine.

    Possibilities include:

    (1) He ended up with 120 million in his 401K by the trick of agreeing with Bain to grossly undervalue the market value of his stock, then a few years later have the stock get unvalued to the stratosphere.

    (2) He participated in the tax avoidance amnesty program of a few years back, avoiding major tax penalties or prosecution.

    (3) Any one or more of the other borderline legal but very bad smelling tax dodges– “in-kind” trades, “no-risk” trades, no-risk write-offs, the list is almost endless.

    And BTW he HASNT even released all of his 2010 return, he very conveniently left off the foreign investments and deposits form. Very convenient.

    And his argument that it would be “bothersome” to collect the tax data is a crock too– he supposedly collected 23 years of the stuff to show to McCain in 2008.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. Ajay Jain says:

    Ed Gillespie on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday 7/16/2012

    ” … Mitt Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” the GOP candidate “retroactively” retired from Bain Capital after the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics began. … ”

    No body who has been drawing at LEAST $100,000.00 per year from 1999 to 2002 from Bain Capital “retroactively” retires from Bain Capital AFTER the 2002!!! Then why draw the salary of at LEAST $100,000.00 per year from 1999 to 2002 from Bain Capital if Romney retired from Bain “retroactively” !!!

    ” … Gillespie continued, “He took a leave of absence and, in fact, Candy, he ended up not going back at all and retired retroactively to February of 1999 as a result.” … ”

    However SEC documents show Mitt Romney as sole owner of all shares of Bain Capital. Romney is also shown as CEO, President and Chairman of Board of Bain Capital in 2001 and 2002 then LEGALLY speaking Mitt Romney has been responsible to all that goes on under the banner of Bain Capital. Then to run for Governor of MA Romney sought residency of MA by lieu of his Bain positions. Now either Romney was at the Olympics OR he was at BAIN.

    Only one can be true not BOTH at the same time simultaneously!!! Will the true Willard Mitt Romney stand up and accept ONE thing? Does Romney want to accept untrue SEC filings and be called a Felon or agree that he represented Bain from 1999 to 2002?

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