It seems to me that Ed Gillespie made the mistake of telling the truth yesterday about Mitt Romney’s departure from Bain Capital. He said that there “may have been a thought at the time that it could be part time, but it was not part time,” and that “He took a leave of absence and in fact he ended up not going back at all, and retired retroactively to 1999 as a result.”
This is probably exactly how it went down. He took a leave of absence to run the Olympics, then started negotiating his pay package while the legal CEO until 2002, and when he finally finished up the Olympics and squeezed as much out of Bain as he could, he relinquished control. It was the leverage of owning the company that allowed him to maximize that pay package. And maybe it was better for tax purposes for him to push the retirement date back to 1999. Or maybe he didn’t want to be associated with certain layoffs and plant closures that happened in the 1999-2002 period.
All this is relentlessly political, and not even all that relevant. As former Bain Capital partner Ed Conard said yesterday, everything Bain was doing from 1999-2002 reflects everything they were doing before 1999 – gaming the tax system to make massive profits and push the losses onto the public sector.
The reason this matters to me is that Romney signed an FEC document just last year stating that he “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,” and yet the documents revealed since show that to be a falsehood. Everyone is focused on SEC documents – with horrible people like Bob Woodward saying that “they are camouflages for what’s really going on,” which is nice for us little people to know – but that’s completely beside the point. It’s the FEC document that’s the problem.
There’s no ambiguity in the statement “not had any active role” and “not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.” And yet we have numerous forms – 142 – which Romney personally signed that have to do with Bain Capital and various entities. That’s what the sole shareholder, chairman and CEO would have to do in that situation. Ryan Grim and Jason Cherkis found another one over the weekend.
A corporate document filed with the state of Massachusetts in December 2002 — a month after Romney was elected governor — lists him as one of two managing members of Bain Capital Investors, LLC “authorized to execute, acknowledge, deliver and record any recordable instrument purporting to affect an interest in real property, whether to be recorded with a Registry of Deeds or with a District Office of the Land Court.”
In August 2011, Romney told federal authorities, as part of the financial disclosure process, that he “retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee [for the 2002 Winter Olympics]. 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.”
Bain Capital Investors is a Bain Capital entity.
There are close to a dozen documents out there like this, documentary evidence that the categorical on Romney’s FEC form is simply false. Brad DeLong is missing the point, by the way, guilty of exactly what he keeps pestering Glenn Kessler about. Romney didn’t write that he was not “an active manager of Bain Capital,” he wrote that he “has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.” This is false. DeLong pretty clearly did not read the language on the FEC form. Why oh why can’t we have more careful readers at UC-Berkeley!
David Corn gets this right:
That would suggest that Romney’s declaration on his disclosure form—no involvement “in any way”—is inaccurate. The Romney camp maintains that a few signatures here or there are no big deal. But Romney declared in a document submitted to the US government that he had nothing to do with Bain operations after February 1999. In light of that, those signatures are not nothing.
Let the Obama and Romney campaigns play out the debate over outsourcing – the Obama campaign has a leg up in that department. I am more interested in lying on a federal form. As I recall, Republicans impeached a President once over perjury.