Ed Gillespie, spinmeister for the Romney campaign, was all over the Sunday morning talk shows today trying to explain how his boss was not working for and with Bain Capital after February 1999, even though a lot of official documents indicate he was. With an ingratiating chuckle and smile he deflected, spun, ignored, and counterattacked. He even coined the phrase “retired retroactively” to explain Romney’s actions: “He took a leave of absence and in fact, ended up not going back at all and retired retroactively to February 1999 as a result.” Still, it would have been so much more entertaining to see Romney himself trying to pull off the same tap dance.
What a disappointment. Based on the promos, I had somehow expected to see Romney show up personally to defend himself from all the scurrilous, baseless attacks on his reputation as a fine upstanding businessman, one who has fully and honestly disclosed his dealings to the SEC and IRS.
According to David Jones, writing for Mother Jones on July 13:
Numerous other SEC filings submitted by Bain in the years following February 1999 list Romney as a Bain executive and a member of its ‘management committee.’ (Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo found two SEC filings from 2000 and 2001 listing Romney’s ‘principle occupation’ as managing director of Bain.) And the Boston Globe made a splash this week when it reported that it had unearthed ‘nine SEC filings submitted by four different business entities after February 1999 that describe Romney as Bain Capital’s boss; some show him with managerial control over five Bain Capital entities that were formed in January 2002.’ The Huffington Post, meanwhile, reported on testimony Mitt Romney gave in 2002 in which he acknowledged that after he headed to Salt Lake City he still participated in board meetings for firms in which Bain had invested.
Yet Romney insists his relationship with Bain ended in February 1999 when he “retired” and left to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. And all this comes on top of previous reports revealing his financial dealings with a Swiss bank and holdings in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Yes, yes, it’s complicated, and peons like me couldn’t possible understand the complex ins and outs of high finance. However, it would be a mistake to forget that peons vote.
Obama spokesperson Stephanie Cutter was succinct on this morning’s Face the Nation:
If you’re signing an SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] document with your own signature that you’re the president, C.E.O., chairman of the board and 100 percent owner of a company, in what world are you living in that you’re not in charge? …
… And the simple point is, if you’re telling the SEC you’re in charge but you’re telling the American people that you bear no responsibility, one of those things is not true.
Cutter, you’ll recall, said in a telephone conference with reporters last week:
Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.
As is said so often, the appearance of impropriety matters as much or more than the facts. And with Romney, we have only appearances to go on; he’s been refusing to release the documentation, tax returns, etc. needed to refute them. That’s his right, of course; he needn’t release any more than is absolutely required by law. But he can’t have it both ways. He can’t keep insisting he’s honest and aboveboard without proving it. As a candidate for president, he doesn’t have that luxury. He should have learned a lesson from the Obama birth certificate debacle: Disclose immediately, if not well in advance of, any possible attacks on one’s truthfulness. Disclose not only what is required by law but whatever additional information is needed to forestall negative speculation and conclusions.
Romney may have released everything legally required of him, but it behooves him to release whatever additional documentation is required to dispel all doubt about the legality of his financial dealings — unless, of course, that documentation will reveal information far more damaging than the speculation itself.
Draw your own conclusions. Gillespie talks to Candy Crowley on State of the Union:
- Video: Fmr. Bain partner: ‘Legally’ Romney was CEO of Bain until 2002 (msnbc.msn.com)
- Ed Gillespie: Mitt Romney ‘Retired Retroactively’ From Bain Capital (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Everyone Is Already Ripping This Mitt Romney Adviser For Saying Romney ‘Retired Retroactively’ From Bain Capital (businessinsider.com)
- Another Document Contradicts Romney’s Bain Timeline (politicalwire.com)
- How Mitt Romney and Glenn Kessler Swift-Yachted Themselves (delong.typepad.com)
- Emanuel: Romney made Bain tenure his ‘calling card,’ should ‘stop whining’ (thehill.com)
- Bain, Bain Won’t Go Away For Romney Campaign (wnyc.org)