Mitt Meltdown Open ThreadPosted: July 12, 2012
I thought I’d put up an open thread to discuss the ongoing Mitt Shady meltdown–or anything else on your mind. I’m gearing up to listen to Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell and I’ll post anything interesting they have to say. If you’re watching or listening too, please join in.
I know you’re already aware that Romney demanded a retraction from The Boston Globe, and they informed him that their story is solid and they’re not backing down. Of course the Obama campaign laughed their asses off at Romney’s demand for an apology from them. Here are some of the latest headlines on the Mitt Shady meldown.
I really like this post by Brian Beutler: Cutting Through The Bain Bamboozlement
Technical questions are, for the moment, dominating the dispute over when Mitt Romney really left Bain Capital. But from my point of view, on the sidelines of this particular story, it all seems much, much simpler.
The reason this issue is in dispute at all is because Mitt Romney wants full political inoculation from anything Bain did between early 1999 and 2002, when he definitely truly left the company. He wasn’t in charge, except in a narrow, technical sense; he’d delegated his duties; Bain’s business practices from that period can’t be hung around his neck.
If you’re not already belly-laughing think about it this way.
For Romney to be truly off the hook politically for the stuff Bain was doing, he’d have to claim not lack of control, but lack of knowledge. And that’s just not going to wash with anyone. He could try going the “I didn’t have even the slightest idea what the company I technically still owned was doing” route, but he’d be marking himself as either dishonest or incompetent.
The Romney campaign did not dispute the contents of the documents reviewed by the Globe but insisted Romney had nothing to do with Bain Capital’s operations after he became chief executive of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
“The article is not accurate,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “As Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point.” [....]
But a former SEC commissioner told the Globe that even if Romney did not have his hand in Bain Capital’s day-to-day operations, he was still responsible for them, as the firm’s boss.
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say he was technically in charge on paper but he had nothing to do with Bain’s operations,” said Roberta S. Karmel, now a professor at Brooklyn Law School. “Was he getting paid? He’s the sole stockholder. Are you telling me he owned the company but had no say in its investments?”
The Romney campaign claimed Karmel is biased, noting that she was appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Karmel did not donate to Obama in 2008 and has not given to the president’s campaign this year, either.
Romney has consistently insisted that he was too busy organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics to take part in Bain business between 1999 and that event. But in the testimony, which was provided to The Huffington Post, Romney noted that he regularly traveled back to Massachusetts. “[T]here were a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth,” he said.
Romney’s sworn testimony was given as part of a hearing to determine whether he had sufficient residency status in Massachusetts to run for governor.
Romney testified that he “remained on the board of the Staples Corporation and Marriott International, the Life Like Corporation” at the time.
Yet in the Aug. 12, 2011, federal disclosure form filed as part of his presidential bid, he said, “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.”
Bain, a private equity firm, held a stake in the Lifelike Co. until the end of 2001, including during the period in which Romney claimed to have no business involvement with Bain entities. Bain had heavily invested in Lifelike, a company that Romney identified personally as an opportunity, in 1996 and sold its shares in late 2001. His involvement with Lifelike contradicts his assertion that he had no involvement with Bain business. His testimony is supported by his 2001 Massachusetts State Ethics Commission filing, in which he lists himself as a member of Lifelike’s board.
For the Romney campaign, the calculation is complex, as his advisers are weighing the benefits of transparency against the potential problems he could face should the documents reveal — or even appear to reveal — that he has gamed the tax code.
For now, Romney’s advisers said that the candidate has been sufficiently transparent and that he has no plans to disclose additional tax filings. But with four months left until Election Day — and the near-certainty that Romney will face questions about his finances in any interviews and in the fall debates — his advisers might be forced to reevaluate their strategy if the issue damages his standing in the polls.
Even some Republicans are describing the Romney position as problematic. Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, a onetime party chairman, said this week that he would provide more than two years’ worth of documents if he were in Romney’s shoes.
Strategist Mark McKinnon said the candidate’s reluctance to release his taxes feeds into the Obama campaign’s argument that Romney is hiding something and taking advantage of the system to enrich himself.
The longer Romney stalls, the worse this is going to get. He’s starting to sound like Nixon claiming “I am not a crook.”