Did Mitt Romney run Bain after 1999? Will voters care if he did? (+video)
The Obama team may believe that keeping the focus on Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain serves to remind voters of his venture capital past. But evidence is scant that voters are swayed by this line of attack.
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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These questions arise due to recent news reports on Bain Capital SEC filings indicating that Mr. Romney retained control over the firm for years after his announced 1999 departure to run the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. The Boston Globe reported on these documents this week, following stories by David Corn of Mother Jones and other journalists earlier in the month.
This might seem like political hair-splitting – what’s three years, after all? But Bain Capital, during those years, was involved in investments in outsourcing firms and several job-killing bankruptcies. Romney doesn’t want to be tied to those events – something the Obama campaign is trying to do.
“Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission], which is a felony, or he is misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments,” said Stephanie Cutter, President Obama's deputy campaign manager, on Thursday in a conference call with reporters.
In the past, independent journalistic fact-finding organizations have found that the Obama team’s attempts to link Romney to Bain’s outsourcing investments are a stretch at best and deceptive at worst. They say nothing in the new revelations changes that judgment.
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler called the SEC documents “relatively unimportant,” and noted that Romney filed a federal financial disclosure form that states he had no active role in Bain during the years in question. A misstatement on the disclosure form would indeed be a felony, wrote Mr. Kessler.
“That filing would seem to trump these SEC documents,” he concluded.