Guy Benson

With millions out of work, the American growth and jobs pictures dimming, the cost of healthcare skyrocketing, and the national debt spiraling out of control, Democrats are exhibiting some rather strange priorities.  On a policy level, they're fixated on raising taxes on nearly one million small businesses (while blocking votes on their own party's proposals) in order to fuel class divisions.  On a political level, they're obsessed with baselessly speculating about Mitt Romney's foreign investments (while blithely ignoring their own) and lying about his non-existent role in Bain Capital's supposed "outsourcing" (even amidst revelations that $29 billion in Obama "stimulus" funds were shipped overseas).  Their latest conspiracy theory is that Romney stayed on as a member of Bain's active leadership for several years beyond 1999, the year he's often asserted that he left the company to go save the Salt Lake City Olympics.  Liberals and the media -- but I repeat myself -- are buzzing about a new Boston Globe story that suggests that Romney hasn't been honest about his personal employment timeline:
 

Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time. Romney has said he left Bain in 1999 to lead the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, ending his role in the company. But public Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed later by Bain Capital state he remained the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president.” Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. And Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings. The timing of Romney’s departure from Bain is a key point of contention because he has said his resignation in February 1999 meant he was not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date.


The story includes several provocative quotes from a former SEC commissioner, which appears to lend the report an extra air of credibility.  The problem?  It's all a giant, juicy nothingburger.  The Washington Post factchecker summarizes:
 

It really feels like Groundhog Day again. There appears to be some confusion about how partnerships are structured and managed, or what SEC documents mean. (Just because you are listed as an owner of shares does not mean you have a managerial role.) To accept some of the claims, one would have to believe that Romney, with the advice of his lawyers, lied on government documents and committed a criminal offense. Moreover, you would have to assume he willingly gave up his share to a few years of retirement earnings — potentially worth millions of dollars — so he could say his retirement started in 1999.


WaPo's truth team also notes that the SEC official quoted happens to be a frequent Democratic donor, a fact not disclosed in the Globe report.  FactCheck.org joined this fray earlier this month, offering a raft of evidence that further annihilates today's non-bombshell:
 

The Obama campaign complains that we got a key fact wrong in out June 29 article, "Obama's 'Outsourcer' Overreach." We strongly disagree. We find the Obama campaign’s evidence to be weak or non-existent, and contrary to statements Romney has made on official disclosure forms under pain of federal prosecution. The Obama complaint claims we erred in saying Mitt Romney gave up active management of Bain Capital in early 1999 to run the 2002 Winter Olympics, insisting we were then wrong in saying Romney was not responsible for shipping U.S. jobs overseas. 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.

And after reviewing evidence cited by the Obama campaign, we reaffirm our conclusion that Romney left the helm of Bain Capital when he took a leave of absence in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics – as he has said repeatedly — and never returned to active management. The Obama campaign’s recent ads thus mislead when they point to investments made by Bain, as well as management decisions made by companies in which Bain invested, after that time. The Obama campaign’s objections are contained in a six-page letter sent to us (and  — without notice to us — to other news organizations as well). It cobbles together selective news snippets and irrelevant securities documents in an attempt to show that Romney was still running Bain Capital on a part-time basis while he was also running the Olympics committee.


Note how the passage was published nearly two weeks ago, yet the Globe pressed ahead with their inaccurate "scoop" anyway.  Democrats are piling with zero regard for the truth, natch.  FactCheck.org's systematic destruction of Team Obama's argument continues on for many paragraphs, citing multiple contemporaneous reports confirming Mitt Romney's accurate accounting of events.  In fact, the Romney campaign is also pointing to the Globe's own reporting, which also contradicts today's story:
 

BOSTON GLOBE IN 2002: “Is it accurate? Romney's investment firm, Bain Capital, bought a majority stake in GS Technologies in 1993. Last year, with Bain still in control, the company filed for bankruptcy and Bain announced it would close the company's Kansas City steel rod plant, which employed 750 people. But Romney was not at Bain when the decision to close the plant was made: He left in 1999 to help organize the Olympics, though he was still signing official SEC documents as the company's president and CEO. Romney has taken responsibility for making the initial investment but has said he could not be blamed for management decisions at the company.”


A book entitled "The Real Romney" -- authored by Boston Globe reporters -- provides more evidence on this point, as does this USA Today story from 2001:
 

USA TODAY IN 2001: “Romney, 54, announced Monday that he won't return to Bain Capital, the company he co-founded in 1984. The firm specializes in acquiring struggling companies and righting them. It manages about $ 12 billion in assets. Romney, who held 100% of the voting stock, said he transferred it to the 26 managing directors who have run the firm day-to-day since he took over the then-troubled Salt Lake City Games on Feb. 11, 1999. He will continue to hold investments in the firm.” (AUGUST 21, 2001)


In other words, the Romney campaign is being forced to waste enormous amounts of time and energy refuting already-debunked lies about their candidate's record.  Meanwhile, the Obama camp keeps peddling this stuff because (a) they have an incentive to muddy the waters, and (b) they need to offer some justification for the expensive (and ongoing) false advertising campaign they're running across the country.  On that score, the Romney campaign is playing defense, and the RNC is pivoting to offense, in two new ads:
 




Effective, or treading water?


UPDATE - I spoke with a Romney campaign aide, who confirmed that Romney signed off on these financial disclosure forms (under penalty of law) at the time.  In other words, Romney didn't try to rewrite his history only recently, now that he's running for president.  So, setting aside all the evidence above, liberals would have us believe that (1) Mitt Romney and his team of attorneys intentionally committed a felony in the early 2000s by submitting false information to the federal government, and (2) he did so to cover his ass just in case future political opponents might try to blame him for Bain-related bankruptcies -- some of which had not even occurred yet (!) -- twelve years later.  This is ridiculous on its face, of course, but if liberals want to say they believe it, they'd also better acknowledge that Romney is a wizard who can see the future and act accordingly.  Sounds like a pretty good quality to have in a president, doesn't it, deranged Lefties? 


UPDATE II - Any documentation to back up these allegations, Obama campaign?  Nah:
 

During the conference call this meeting, the Obama campaign was asked if they had proof Romney was involved in the day-to-day Bain dealings when he was leading the Olympics. The campaign didn’t offer any evidence that they had any such proof.


Think about this: Democrats are conjuring new lies to justify previous lies that are currently being repeated ad nauseam in their attack ads.  Unreal.


UPDATE III - Aaaaand, we're done:
 

Mitt Romney did not manage Bain Capital's investments after leaving to run the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, according to confidential firm documents obtained by Fortune...the contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain -- which, one should note, is different from no longer having legal or financial ties to the firm.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography