Documents show Romney was at Bain longer than he claimed, political battle ensues
The Boston Globe unearthed documents that indicate that Mitt Romney was head of Bain Capital until 2002.
President Obama’s campaign on Thursday accused GOP rival Mitt Romney about lying about his tenure as head of the investment firm Bain Capital, arguing that should cause voters to question his fitness to serve as president.
At the same time, the Romney campaign accused its opponent of misleading the public about his tenure at the company.
The Obama campaign cited a report in the Boston Globe, which showed documents Bain filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that list Romney as the top executive and sole shareholder at the firm until 2002, three years longer than he has previously said. (Liberal outlets such as Talking Points Memo and Mother Jones have reported on SEC documents that indicate Romney was still at the company in 2001.)
Though the documents do not provide evidence that Romney had an active role in management during that time, the Obama campaign claims that since Romney was listed as the top executive at Bain during that three-year period, he bears responsibility for business decisions that led to layoffs at Bain-owned companies and the outsourcing of jobs overseas, a characterization that Romney has strongly rejected.
“Romney was the lone shareholder, the managing director and legally responsible for everything that happened inside those Bain deals,” Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told reporters, adding that means Romney is “politically responsible” for jobs shipped overseas.
“He has to accept responsibility for the outsourcing of American jobs that took place in that time period,” Cutter added.
Why does all this matter?
The report provided even more fuel for the Obama campaign’s central attack on Romney; that he is an out-of-touch businessman who profited off of decisions that led to job losses and bankruptcies. That goes at the heart of Romney’s biography as a candidate who knows how to fix the ailing economy through his experience in the private sector.
“Looking at his private sector experience and the consequences of that experience … the American people need to consider whether that is the type of experience they want in a president,” said Cutter.
And though no evidence has surfaced that Romney was directly involved in the deals in question, the Obama campaign’s legal counsel Bob Bauer said “I would stay very much tuned on that.”
The Obama campaign and its allies have attempted to drive that message home through a string of well-funded television ads over the course of the campaign. Recently, the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action and the labor organization SEIU launched a Spanish-language ad aimed at Latinos that called Romney “a person without feelings who does not care about people.”
On Thursday the Obama campaign furthered the attacks on Romney’s character, saying that he has deliberately distorted the account of his departure from Bain.
Bauer went so far as to say that if Romney was not in control of Bain Capital when he was listed as its top executive, “there are very, very serious legal consequences that would follow.”
The attacks on Romney’s Bain record are not new: the Obama campaign has used them for months and the Globe noted that attacks on Romney’s time at Bain date all the way back to his 2002 run for Massachusetts governor when his Democratic opponent Shannon O’Brien used an employee laid off from a Bain-owned Kansas City steel mill in 2001. Romney went on to win that race.
Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign has strongly rejected the notion that he was actively involved in managing the company beyond 1999, accusing the Obama campaign of smearing his record.
The campaign released a hard-charging television ad titled “No Evidence” that labels Obama’s Bain attacks as “dishonest” and misleading.
“The [Globe] article is not accurate. As Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Governor 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,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told NBC News.
Romney has emphasized Bain’s success stories on the trail, including an early investment in the office-supply store Staples, which developed into a prominent national chain.
A Romney campaign official told CNN that the governor was listed on official filings due to a “quirk in the law.”
“When Governor Romney took over the Olympics, he was not involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way. He was too busy working to make the Olympic Games among the most successful ever held,” the official said.