The obsession with Bain continues

The Boston Globe is citing SEC filings for the proposition that Mitt Romney remained at Bain Capital beyond 1999, the year he says he left to run the Winter Olympics. According to the Globe, documents filed by Romney and Bain say he remained chief executive and chairman of the firm until at least 2002, creating five new investment partnerships during that time.

The Romney campaign responds that their man gave up control over all investment decisions in 1999 because he would be taking charge of the Winter Olympics. His name remained on SEC filings because he was technically still the owner.

This response seems sensible enough. Moreover, the only relevant question pertaining to Bain-related dates is the date on which Romney stopped making investment decisions. That date is relevant (and I use the word loosely) because Romney is under fire (ridiculously) over investments that Bain made after the date in 1999 when Romney says he ceded control. If it could be demonstrated that Romney made investment decisions after that date, this would become a problem in terms of his veracity and, for those who care about Bain’s investment, a problem on the merits.

But, the SEC filings apparently don’t show involvement by Romney in Bain-related decisions after the 1999 date.

The Globe’s story, then, appears to be a silly “gotcha” of the kind in which the liberal MSM routinely indulges when Republican candidates are concerned. In that respect, it resembles the high school bullying story that the Washington Post ran up the flag pole. By contrast, the liberal MSM continues its longstanding policy of studiously avoiding any meaningful inquiry into the past of Barack Obama, the man who lied to his autobiography.

What does the Globe’s story mean in the long run for the campaign? Nothing, I suspect. In times like these, it’s difficult to imagine any voter basing his decision on the year in which a candidate severed his connection with a successful, law-abiding business.

UPDATE: FactCheck.org has concluded that Romney’s tenure at Bain ended in 1999. In doing so, it reviewed a six-page submission by the Obama campaign. Team Obama’s submission included various SEC documents. Here’s what FactCheck.org had to say about this documentation:

In summary, the letter states there are “at least 63 filings with that agency after March 1, 1999 that list various Bain entities and describe them as ‘wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney.’” That’s true, but not relevant.

We have never disputed that Romney remained the owner of Bain while he was running the Olympics committee. The issue always has been, who was running Bain? Nothing in the SEC documents contradicts what Romney has certified as true.

On that point, the Obama campaign cites snippets of a few news clippings to make a case that Romney was still a part-time manager of Bain after he left to run the Olympics. But a close reading shows these news accounts don’t contradict Romney either.

For example, the Obama letter quotes from a Boston Herald story (“Romney looks to restore Olympic Pride”) that cites a partial quote from Romney saying that he intended to stay on at Bain as a part-timer. Here’s the quote in a fuller context.

Boston Herald, Feb. 12, 1999: Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions. But he will leave running day-to-day operations to Bain’s executive committee.

First, the Obama campaign simply ignores Romney’s stated intent to “leave running day-to-day operations” to others. And in any case, Romney’s statement that he would remain a “part-timer” is merely a statement of intent, issued just as he was leaving for the Olympics job and before he knew how much time it would consume. It is not evidence of what actually happened.

And as to what happened later, the evidence is clear. According to an Associated Press story that ran just two months later, Romney quickly discovered that he was working 16-hour days on the Olympics, leaving no time for Bain (or even his own wedding anniversary).

The AP story goes on to say that Romney “immersed himself in books on sports management” and “has answered about two dozen e-mails and letters a day, spent a quarter of his time dealing with the media, and juggled meeting requests from city officials, board members and business owners.”

It also quotes an accountant friend who was assisting Romney, Bob White, as saying “Right now he’s doing two, maybe three full-time jobs” running the Olympics. Romney’s wife, Ann, is quoted as saying that her husband had been working 112 hours a week at first, causing her to move to Salt Lake City to be with him. Since her arrival, she said, he had cut his Olympics work to 84 hours a week.

The Obama campaign’s letter says a reporter learned in a 2000 interview with Ann Romney that her husband was “dividing his time between running Bain and running the Olympics,” but in fact those words don’t appear in the news clip it cites.

The Nov. 11, 2000 Boston Globe story (which we read in full via Nexis) paraphrases Ann Romney this way: “The [Olympics] project is running smoothly now, though still requiring so much of Mitt Romney’s time that he has had to lessen his involvement with Bain Capital, his investment firm.” And he did indeed “lessen” his involvement, giving up all management control according to what he has certified repeatedly. The Globe story goes on to quote Ann Romney as saying the couple is still living in Salt Lake City and that “[w]e’re still coming home [to Boston] for Thanksgiving.” Nowhere is she quoted as saying he has spent any time managing Bain.

FactCheck goes on to demolish the other fragments of “evidence” cited by the Obama campaign. It concludes that Team Obama is “all wet” on this matter. That’s putting it kindly

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