Bain: He’s Drowning Not Waving

Jul 13 2012 @ 10:01am

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This morning, we still have no explanation for why Mitt Romney was paid a six figure salary for three years while he "had absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies" in Bain's words in their statement yesterday. We also have no explanation of why telling the SEC in 2001 that he remained the "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president," while he was nothing of the kind. Yes, we have been told that his departure was dramatic, and that it took time to restructure a complicated business partnership, but for a company to declare a false CEO to the SEC for three years is either the mark of spectacular incompetence – and a potential felony – or a lie.

I think it's telling that the Romney campaign has not yet addressed these two core questions. But even its own line of response – to reiterate that even though Romney remained the formal CEO, he was completely AWOL – is now looking more tenuous with new data from HuffPo. In trying to fend off questions about his Massachusetts residency for the gubernatorial campaign, Romney stated that while he was running the Olympics,

[T]here were a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth.

My italics. That statement was under oath. So was this about the period in question:

[I] remained on the board of the Staples Corporation and Marriott International, the LifeLike Corporation.

Lifelike and Staples were Bain acquisitions. To repeat: Romney said he attended board meetings of Bain companies in a period in which Bain says he had "absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies." And this was under oath:

I returned for most of those meetings. Others I attended by telephone if I could not return.

So now the story is the following: Romney legally declared himself the "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" in a period when his company says he had "absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies." But during that period, he attended board meetings of Bain companies and made several business trips back to Boston.

So did Romney lie under oath or is Bain lying today? I'd say Romney's best bet is to stick with his under-oath testimony and to his SEC filing and admit that he was responsible for what Bain did – legally and practically – in the period in question, even if he was part-time. Otherwise, he could have committed a crime. The only problem with conceding this is that it opens up a whole can of worms about investments and decisions by Bain in those years – and possible inquiries into conflicts of interest as he drummed up dollars for Salt Lake City's Games.

Which leads us to the following conclusions: yes, former Senator Santorum, your nominee was the "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" of a private equity firm that invested in a post-abortion fetus disposal enterprise. Maybe if you'd known that, you could have brought it up in the primaries.

(Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Getty)