Politics

07.16.12

Bain and the F-Word

Felony, that is. Andrew argues that it's not a dead letter at all, this felony question:

The claim that he committed a felony by falsely reporting his role at Bain Capital under oath is what has really gotten under Romney's skin. But it seems pretty clear to me that he signed a federal financial disclosure form, under the penalty of perjury, saying he had not been involved "in any way" with Bain after he left for Utah in February 1999. That's a strong statement. And it is directly undercut by Romney's own statement in his 2002 attempt to prove residency to run for governor...

Sullivan links to a brand-new scoop by David Corn of Mother Jones, who highlights a quote Romney gave state officials trying to explain that he was indeed a Massachusetts resident while living in Utah. Corn reports:

Yet during that 2002 hearing—in a remark that has not been previously reported—Romney said that after he departed Bain in February 1999 he went through a transition period regarding his work in Boston. 

When a lawyer challenging his eligibility asked Romney, "Did you remain more or less continuously in Salt Lake City from February '99 to the end of the year," Romney answered:

Actually, there was some transition away from my work in Boston for the first few months and then I pretty much stayed there after...

Now, in fairness to Romney, the existence of a "transition period" doesn't necessarily mean he was coming back to do Bain business. It certainly suggests that. But it doesn't mean it perforce. So that question remains open. And, I should add although it's obvious, the commission found him eligible to run for governor.

But what I suspect he was trying to fudge before the residency panel was, indeed, his residency. (And why is this guy always trying fudge something or another?) My understanding of IRS rules is that if you have two homes, the one you spend 185 days or more in is your residence for that year. So Romney, in talking up this transition, was probably trying to establish to the commission that he spent something in the neighborhood of 185 days that year in Boston.

So it remains possible that he wasn't even a legitimate governor! As it happens, Scott Lehigh had a very interesting column in the Globe just the other day on this question:

Let’s enter the political time machine for a trip back to 2002. Having won a gold managerial medal for his stewardship of the winter Olympics, Romney came back to Massachusetts raring to run for governor. He had the makings of a formidable candidate, and local Democrats knew as much. They began raising questions about whether, after his out-of-state stint readying the Winter Games, he met the residency requirement to run for governor.

How Romney had filed his Massachusetts income taxes — as a resident or non-resident — during his years in Utah could have had some bearing on the issue. Since he had also been contemplating a run for office in Utah, some suspected he might have filed as resident there to establish more permanent roots in the Beehive State.

Romney initially refused to make a copy of his Massachusetts tax returns public, even a copy with the income information redacted. Suspicions only grew more intense after the Globe’s Frank Phillips reported that Romney had paid property taxes on his Park City, Utah, home as his primary residence for 1999, 2000, and 2001. Campaign aide Eric Fehrnstrom said that had happened because of a “clerical mistake” by the relevant county assessor’s office in Utah, an account that office pretty much backed up, though no one could say quite how the unusual error had occurred.

This is life with Mitt. Lehigh concluded that "trying to pin Romney down on a nettlesome issue could be like trying to pin a drop of mercury to a sheet of waxed paper. And it presented a revealing look at the less-than-candid way Romney and team would sometimes operate." He's hiding behavior that is at the very least too cute by half; worse, that cancels out what he has been trumpeting for months as his great qualification for the White House; and worst of all, still maybe a felony. Yeah, you're right, conservatives; no story here.