Kessler: He’s Drowning Not Waving

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 13 2012 @ 12:11pm


Glenn Kessler, WaPo's fact-checker, has a detailed examination of the latest Globe story. Why he thinks criminal charges are extremely unlikely:

The SEC can bring civil charges for discrepancies in filing 13D documents, but as far as we can tell none has ever been brought for someone listing a misleading title … Moreover, there is a five-year statue of limitations, though the clock could start from when the SEC becomes aware of the matter. But 12 years have passed since the filing in question. Bringing in a federal prosecutor to examine criminal charges is even a bigger stretch.

Throughout, Kessler bizarrely asserts that telling the SEC that someone is the CEO and sole owner of a company, when he isn't, is no big deal. He says that all Romney did was list "a misleading title." Misleading? Really? Either you are CEO or you aren't. If you are, you have responsibility for everything the company did while you were CEO. Can anyone just make up names for company CEOs at the SEC? Count me unconvinced. Then Kessler basically concedes the point:

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.

And he proves it:

In 2011, Romney, as a presidential candidate, filed a public financial disclosure form, under pain of perjury, that stated:

"Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. 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."

You can see Romney’s signature, on the first page, in which he states:  "I certify that statements I have made on this form and all attached schedules are true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge."

If Romney lied on this form, that would be a felony.

But according to Kessler, this must be a lie and therefore a felony. How does Romney attend board meetings of Bain acquisitions, sign six filings on Bain acquisitions, get a six figure salary as an executive, list himself as sole owner and CEO with the SEC in these years, and insist he was not "involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way"? Bain went further and stated that in the period involved Romney had "absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies." All of this is a spectacular contradiction – and yet Kessler, defending, one suspects, his own reputation, refuses to give an inch.

Is Kessler that much in the Romney tank? Or can he not read his own column?