FactCheck.org: Drowning Not Waving

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 13 2012 @ 2:00pm

FactCheck.org, like Kessler, still sees no evidence that Romney's stories don't add up:

None of the SEC filings show that Romney was anything but a passive, absentee owner during that time, as both Romney and Bain have long said. It should not surprise anyone that Romney retained certain titles while he was working out the final disposition of his ownership, for example. We see nothing to contradict the statement that a Bain spokesman issued in response to the Globe article:

Bain Capital, July 12: Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney’s departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in various capacities on SEC filings during this period.

Jill E. Fisch, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and co-director of the Institute for Law and Economics, said Romney would not have committed a felony by listing himself as managing director — even if he now claims he had no role in running the company after February 1999. There is no legal obligation to describe how active one is in the day-to-day management of the company, she said. And just because he held title of managing director doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s responsible for decisions like layoffs or outsourcing.

"If that really mattered to investors, they might consider that a civil liability, but we wouldn’t be talking about a felony," she said.

We would reassess our judgment should somebody come up with evidence that Romney took part in specific management decisions or had any active role (not just a title) at Bain after he left to head the Olympics. But nothing we’ve seen directly contradicts Romney’s statements — which he has certified as true under pain of federal prosecution — that he “has not had any active role” with Bain or “been involved in the operations” of Bain since then.

Just because he was listed as the CEO, sole owner and managing director of Bain means he has no actual responsibility for the company? That's piffle. However involved he was, he was still legally and morally responsible for the company he still owned and didn't transfer ownership of for three years. Chait, in my view, gets this wrong as well. He argues that

Obama isn’t saying Romney’s firm shipped jobs overseas, he’s saying Romney shipped jobs overseas. That depends on showing that Romney was more involved in the company than he says, and that his former partners say.

No it doesn't. All it requires is proof that Romney was still listed at the SEC as the company's sole owner and CEO. And we have that. With that title, Romney is responsible for everything Bain did from 1999 until he was formally removed from that position. Even the professor noted that this could represent a "civil liability" for shareholders who stupidly believed the SEC's untrue filing. And as for "nothing we’ve seen directly contradicts Romney’s statements," how's this?

We have identified at least six filings that Romney did sign during this period: a April 13,, 1999 13D filing by Pirod Holdings regarding an investment in Rohn Industries; a Jan. 3, 2000 13D filing by VMM Merger Corp. regarding an investment in VDI MultiMedia; a Feb. 14, 2000 13G filing by Bain Capital Fund IV regarding Wesley Jessen Visioncare; a Feb. 13, 2001 13G filing by Bain Capital Fund VI regarding Integrated Circuit Systems; a Feb. 14, 2001 13G filing by Bain Capital Fund VI regarding ChipPAC; and a November 12, 1999 13G filing (first reported by Mother Jones) by Bain Capital Fund VI regarding Stericycle.