Politics

07.12.12

The Globe's Bain Revelation: Drip Drip...

The talk of our biz today is this Boston Globe article citing SEC filings showing that Romney was with Bain Capital until 2002, not 1999 as he has for years claimed. We're in that phase right now when everybody is trying to guess how big a deal this is, "everybody" being political journalists who don't truly understand the intricacies of SEC filings, your correspondent very much included.

On top of that lack of knowledge, I hasten to note that my record on impact-guessing is pretty spotty. Remember that right-wing guy who wanted to fund those ads re-tying Obama to Rev. Wright? I thought that might be trouble for Obama; instead, Republicans themselves, fearing major backlash, shut that effort down on day one. I also thought Obama's endorsement of gay marriage was a pretty big risk, but a month or so later it doesn't appear that it will be much of a big deal.

So, having stipulated all that, I would say that this seems like a big deal. Consider this little nuggest. Dylan Byers of Politico was sharp enough to remind his readers today of something written at Factcheck.org 10 days ago. Factcheck at the time weighed in to naysay Obama campaign claims about Romney's Bain tenure, but it was doing so on the assumption that Romney was telling the truth about ending his association there in 1999. And if he wasn't telling the truth? Ahem:

In fact, if the Obama campaign were correct, Romney would be guilty of a federal felony by certifying on federal financial disclosure forms that he left active management of Bain Capital in February 1999.

Uh-oh.

What's clear from the Globe article is this much. Romney owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002 and was paid $100,000 in salary that years (that's besides other compensation). His campaign has responded by saying the article was wrong, SEC filings are really complex. But doesn't this seem to mean at the very least that he was paid a salary for doing nothing?

Second, the Globe quotes a former SEC commissioner as saying: “If someone invested with Bain Capital because they believed Mitt Romney was a great fund manager, and it turns out he wasn’t really doing anything, that could be considered a misrepresentation to the investor. It’s a theory that could be used in a lawsuit against him.”

Last point of information: Around 11:30, blogger Greg Sargent tweeted: "Obama campaign lawyer Bob Bauer just strongly hinted that more revelations about Romney's Bain involvement after 1999 are coming." At the very least, obviously, Romney would now be exposed to some of the Bain-related layoffs that happened then.

As I've written before, there are fortunes, and then there are fortunes. A self-made person who has a dream or comes up with a great idea--Meg Whitman, say--is good. She didn't win, and of course I'm glad she didn't, but eBay was a net plus for her, as indeed it had a right to be. But Romney isn't that. His fortune was made playing poker with other people's dreams. The voters will decide whether that kind of capitalist should be rewarded with the presidency.