When Mitt Romney was running for governor of Massachusetts a decade ago, Democrats went before a state commission to demand that he be struck from the ballot. Their argument: After taking over the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, he had ceased to live and work in Massachusetts, the state where he had built Bain Capital into one of the leading private equity firms in the world.
Mr. Romney’s team was just as insistent in arguing the opposite. For 30 years, his lawyer argued, “the center of his social, civic and business life has been in this commonwealth.”
Now, amid the heat of the presidential campaign and unrelenting attacks from Democrats over Mr. Romney’s tenure at Bain, the three-year sojourn in Utah has again become the source of controversy — but with the positions reversed.
President Obama and the Democrats are questioning whether Mr. Romney really left Bain in February 1999, when he took over the Olympics. And Mr. Romney and the Republicans are insisting that he ended his day-to-day management role at Bain after taking the Olympics job.
At stake is whether Democrats can hold Mr. Romney responsible for a series of now-controversial investments Bain made during the period in question, including in companies that specialized in outsourcing, laid off some of their workers or declared bankruptcy.
Mr. Romney faced a barrage of attacks over the issue on Sunday, as well as new demands, even from Republicans, that he release more tax returns. Democrats have seized on Mr. Romney’s Bain ties as a test of his credibility, suggesting that he is evading responsibility for his leadership of Bain.
The attacks have thrust Mr. Romney’s three-year leave to the center of the presidential campaign, questioning a central component of Mr. Romney’s case for election — that his business experience gives him the experience to steer the economy on the right course — while putting his campaign on the defensive when it could be attacking Mr. Obama’s job record.
On Sunday, Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Mr. Romney, told CNN that the candidate had “retired retroactively” from Bain more than two years after leaving in 1999, an example of how the complexity of Mr. Romney’s business has proved difficult to explain in the simple terms favored by political campaigns.
The complications arise in part from the ways in which Bain was organized. When Bain Capital was originally created, Mr. Romney was given full control of the private equity firm’s new management company, Bain Capital Inc. When Mr. Romney went on leave in 1999, he retained ownership of that entity — and with it, in theory at least, the power to control Bain Capital’s funds.
At the time, Mr. Romney appeared to be leaving open the possibility that he would return to Bain. His leave was originally characterized as part time, and he told The Boston Herald in 1999 that he would be providing input on investment and personnel decisions in his absence.
Campaign and company officials now say that the Olympics job quickly became all-consuming and that Mr. Romney delegated his management powers to the active partners, most of them longtime friends and colleagues. And in recent years, Mr. Romney has been far more definitive in characterizing his departure.
“Since Feb. 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,” reads a footnote to Mr. Romney’s most recent federal financial disclosures.
Yet because he retained technical control of Bain Capital’s management and because his wealth remained heavily tied up with the firm, Mr. Romney’s name or signature appears on dozens of documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission between February 1999 and August 2001, when he finalized a retirement deal with the active Bain partners and transferred to them his shares of Bain’s management entity.
“Mitt’s name were on the documents as the chief executive and sole owner of the company,” Edward W. Conard, a Bain partner at the time, said during an appearance on MSNBC on Sunday. “And it took several years for us to sort out how to put the management team in place.”
All told, Mr. Romney’s name appears on at least 142 such forms, some of which have been the subject of news coverage in recent days, fueling questions about whether Mr. Romney ever really left. One such form, posted last week by Talking Points Memo, lists Mr. Romney’s “principal occupation” as “managing director” of Bain Capital Investors VI Inc., a private equity fund.
Some of the filings reflect the complex nature of private equity funds: each Bain fund was run by a separate general partnership — one that included all of Bain’s executives — that in turn was legally controlled by Mr. Romney through his management entity.
More here:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/16/us/politics/when-did-romney-step-back-from-bain-its-complicated.html?_r=1&pagewanted=allI like this comment I found on the 'net:
The unfolding Bain mega-scandal and the ongoing stonewalling over releasing taxes are going to damage Romney severely with independents. Neither passes the "smell test." On Bain, Romney has now twisted himself into an almost surreally absurd pretzel with the contortionist argument that essentially boils down to, "Please vote for me for President, because I'm a BUSINESSMAN who knows BUSINESS, but please, don't ever look at my vulture capitalist past, particularly anytime after 1999, when I was only Chairman of the Board, CEO, President, and Sole Investor in Bain Capital, because I didn't really run the business then even though I was filing multiple affidavits saying I was totally in charge, so I could run for governor of Massachusetts, and anything after that absurdly artificial cutoff point doesn't reflect my philosophy of business at all, even though it was in a perfect continuum with what came before that cutoff; and please, consider that I was governor of Massachusetts, but at the same time, please forget that I was governor of Massachusetts, because I passed health care reform in that state which I now repudiate, especially since it became the basis for federal health care reform under President Obama, so that doesn't count, but just remember that I'm a BUSINESSMAN who understands how BUSINESS works, and please don't ask me to release more than one year's worth of tax returns, because after all, nothing that I did in my personal, professional, financial life, or any other area in my life counts, especially if I offshored hundreds of millions of dollars in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and elsewhere, even though I'll be in charge of national tax policy, because none of that counts, just vote for me!" Think about how ludicruously absurd that argument now sounds. And imagine how anyone could vote for someone so fundamentally dishonest, deceitful, corrupt, and un-American. I certainly can't imagine how anyone could.