Gov. Mitt Romney, former CEO and founder of Bain Capital, has in essence told us that he is qualified to be president because of his knowledge of the economy and his success as a businessman. Personally, let me say that I have no grudge or animosity towards Mitt Romney, Bain Capital or the fact that Mitt Romney is extremely wealthy. Mitt Romney has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he knows how to make money. He and Bain Capital have used every trick in the book in order to make money. They have used the tax system to their advantage. They've been able to mark off or depreciate assets in order to make money. They have skeletonized operations and moved some jobs overseas in some companies. None of this is bad if your goal is to make money. Mitt Romney's job at Bain Capital was not to create jobs in the United States. His job was to make money for himself and his investors. He did that. He should be congratulated.
The problem for Mitt Romney is that some of the techniques that were used at Bain Capital just don't sit well with voters. Voters love successful businessmen. Voters don't care so much for businesses that seem to have manipulated the tax code. Voters don't care so much for businesses that ship jobs overseas in order to make more profit. These are facts. So, what Mitt Romney has tried to do, like all politicians, is to play both sides of the fence. He wants all the notoriety and adulation for being a successful businessman, but does not want to take any of the blame for some of the business techniques that voters don't like. This is why it becomes critically important to find out when Mitt Romney severed ties with Bain Dapital. Was it in 1999? Or was it some time later?
In 2002, a Boston Globe article quoted a former Bain Capital executive named Marc B. Wolpow who said Mr. Romney remained in a very active role at Bain Capital while he was supposedly on a leave of absence for his Senate race. Wolpow specifically said of Romney's role, "I reported directly to Mitt Romney.... You can't be CEO of Bain Capital and say, 'I really don't know what my guys were doing,'"
Daily Kos' Jed Lewison, meanwhile, highlights a Bain press release from July 1999 -- several months after Romney claims to have given up his role at the firm -- that describes Romney as being on "a part-time leave of absence" to work on the Olympics. What's more, Dave Weigelnotes Bain materials that said Romney would continue to have "input on investment and key personnel decisions" after his alleged departure.
Making matters slightly worse, the Huffington Post has a report this afternoon, noting a federal disclosure form Romney filed in August 2011 that said Romney, after February 1999, "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." The article added, "That is false."
And making matters worse still, BuzzFeed has published a 2000 document, uncovered by our pal James Carter, that identifies Romney as being "principally engaged in the business of serving as sole stockholder of BCI VI, Inc. (Bain Capital Investors VI)" -- materials signed by Romney that clearly contradict other disclosure forms filed with the FEC. (Update: By "other disclosure forms filed with the FEC," I mean materials like these.)
The challenge, then, becomes figuring out which entity Romney was lying to: the SEC, the FEC, voters, or some combination thereof? Given the contradictions, and the fact that Romney's version of events clearly don't add up, his stories can't all be truthful.