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To Bain or not to Bain: Report disputes when Romney left

July 12, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, shown on the campaign trail this week in Colorado, has said he left Bain Capital in 1999, though he continued to be listed in official government filings as the company's chief executive and chairman.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, shown on the campaign… (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty…)

WASHINGTON -- Just when you thought reporters had scrubbed all of Mitt Romney’s time at the helm of Bain Capital, the Boston Globe suggests there’s more to scrub.

The Globe reports Thursday that for three years after Romney says he left the firm, Bain filed documents with the government that listed Romney as its chief executive and chairman. Romney was listed as having managerial control on paperwork creating five new investment entities during that three-year period, the Globe reports, and Romney reported receiving income from Bain for his work as an “executive.” “A Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002,” the Globe reported.

The Romney campaign did not comment for the story, which primarily relied on filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but referred the paper to a footnote from the former Massachusetts governor’s federal financial disclosure report: “Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way." A statement released by Bain Capital makes the same assertion.

At issue is whether Romney should be asked to answer for outsourcing and bankruptcies at Bain-owned companies in the early 2000s. The Obama campaign, which has repeatedly tried to pin those actions on Romney, quickly jumped on the Globe story Thursday.

“This puts him at the center of responsibility for troubling investments involving outsourcing and bankruptcies,” Obama for America deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in a statement. “It also raises serious questions about why he misrepresented the date of his ‘departure,’ and whether he is concealing his tax returns because there is still more about this period and beyond that he doesn't want people to know.”

Romney is now pushing back hard against the outsourcing attacks. In a new television ad released Thursday, the Romney campaign calls Obama’s campaign “dishonest.”

“When a president doesn’t tell the truth, how can we trust him to lead?” the narrator says.

Romney campaign’s called the Globe story “not accurate.”

“As Bain Capital has said, as Gov. Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Gov. Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

The Romney campaign backed up its claim with news reports stating Romney’s 1999 departure date, although the source of some of those reports was Romney. The campaign also noted past news stories that described the work Romney did for the Olympic as a full-time job and pointed to a story in the Washington Post that looked into the question. It did not explain why the SEC filings listed Romney as CEO, but the Globe report suggests the campaign has dismissed the discrepancies as legal technicalities.

A former SEC commissioner told the Globe that the filings should not be quickly dismissed and could be used as evidence of Bain misleading investors about who was in charge of the firm. The Romney campaign said Thursday that the former commissioner was biased.

The real issue, of course, is not the potential investor lawsuits but the potential politics. The Obama campaign has been trying to cast Romney as not only an out-of-touch 1 percenter, but a secretive, out-of-touch 1 percenter who sent jobs overseas. Voters will have to decide if they buy it.

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