In saying he had no role in running Bain Capital after 1999, Mitt Romney may have committed a felony and put his campaign into a deep hole from which it will be long and hard to dig out.
The Boston Globe found that Romney was leading Bain for three years longer than he has been saying publicly, according to reports Bain and he filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the State Ethics Commission. This matters because Bain did things during that period that Romney finds politically embarrassing.
Of the job-killing deals Bain made, the most infamous was for the GS Industries, which had a steel mill in Kansas City that Bain closed. This 750-job loss was raised in the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign by his opponent, Shannon O’Brien. Other companies she said Romney and Bain sunk included: Dade Behring, Stage Stores, AmPad and Details. Romney sloughed off the charges, claiming in some cases that he had left Bain when those things happened.
Romney was still very much at Bain Capital when they purchased KB Toys and profited mightily when the company took out crippling loans to pay Bain Capital an $83 million dividend. The Pittsfield, Mass. company was founded in 1922 and employed about 500 people at its peak.
Even more potentially damaging, David Corn* of Mother Jones found that Romney “was involved with Bain’s investment in Stericycle, a medical waste firm that has been criticized by opponents of abortion rights for disposing of aborted fetuses.” Wow.
The SEC is charged with protecting investors who make decisions based on, in part, who manages a financial product. If Romney was drawing a salary of “at least $100,000,” as filings show, he was either taking money under false pretenses or he’s been lying during his years as a candidate for governor and president.
Although state filings show he was paid as a Bain executive in 2001 and 2002, (not investment income), Romney’s handlers are saying he left the company in a hurry to manage the winter Olympics. Once in Salt Lake City, he pried more than $1 billion from the federal government to help him “save” the Olympics.
While claiming to be not in charge of Bain, he was listed as its sole stockholder, chairman of the board, CEO and president. For a guy who wasn’t running the place, he sure took up a lot of letterhead space.
Here’s what Romney swore to, according to Open Secrets, a website that catalogs official documents:
Mitt Romney Public Financial Disclosure Report, Aug. 11, 2011: 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.
Romney’s signature appears on the line that 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.” Making false statements to the federal government is a serious crime (under 18 USC 1001) carrying possible fines and up to five years in federal prison.
What this tale poses for voters is a Hobson’s choice: Either Romney and Bain filed false SEC statements, which is a felony, or his campaign has been lying.
The toothpaste is out of the tube. There’s no putting it back.
Note: The Globe has said that David Corn and Talking Points Memo had reported similar information on their websites before the Globe story ran.