In a conference call Thursday morning, the Obama campaign team fixated on a Boston Globe article that purported to show Romney was somehow still actively managing Bain Capital in 2002. It is common knowledge that Romney left the company in 1999 to run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Oceans of contemporaneous documentation support this, and fact checkers left and right have verified it. The Globe???s reporters even documented Romney???s departure in a recently published book.
However, the Globe story made much hay out of some SEC documents filed after Romney???s stated 1999 departure date, which list him as ???sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president.??? Other disclosure forms from Massachusetts said he was still sole owner of Bain Capital in 2002, and listed income earned as an ???executive??? in 2001 and 2002.
This is important because Obama attack ads have repeatedly sought to hold Romney accountable for decisions made at Bain after he relinquished operational control. It???s an odd narrative coming from a President who insists he cannot be held accountable for anything that happened since he took office, but it???s a linchpin of his re-election campaign.
It might seem risky for a President who is still getting millions of dollars in bundled contributions from disgraced MF Global chief and Democrat Party fixture Jon Corzine to throw around criticism of other people???s business practices, but the media is far more interested in Mitt Romney???s business practices from ten or twenty years ago than Obama???s current relationship with Corzine, or the way his Administration portrayed that accomplished ???evaporator??? of a billion dollars as their go-to economic guru on the eve of implementing policies that left us with a trillion ???evaporated??? stimulus dollars and permanent double-digit unemployment.
The Obama campaign is very interested in working with the media to create an image of Romney???s finances as shadowy and disreputable, which is also odd coming from a famously secretive President whose biography is filled with phony stories and ???composite characters,??? who asserted executive privilege to stonewall inquiries into an Administration gun-running program that killed hundreds of innocent people, and whose personal records remain shrouded in impenetrable mystery. Just Thursday afternoon, White House spokesman Jay Carney sneeringly dismissed the one millionth request for Barack Obama to release his college transcripts, calling it a ???Donald Trump question.???
The Globe story went so far as to insinuate that Romney might actually be guilty of a crime for filing false information with the SEC??? based entirely on the comments of a single former SEC official, who the Globe did not see fit to inform readers is a heavy contributor to Democrat political campaigns. It was this notion of illegal chicanery that Obama campaign aide Stephanie Cutter was pushing when she said, in a conference call on Thursday, ???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.???
(Emphasis mine.) As all of those fact-checkers were pointing out by Thursday afternoon, there was actually nothing new in the Boston Globe ???scoop.??? They ran the exact same story ten years ago. The only new wrinkles were the comments from that helpful Democrat contributor who used to work for the SEC, and some material the Globe reporters plagiarized from far-left magazine Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo, a George Soros-funded website. The Globe eventually updated the story to credit these sources.
It was astoundingly sloppy work by the Globe, very obviously a packaged non-story designed to help Team Obama push a political narrative. The paper???s readers were poorly served by a hyperventilating attempt to blow minor paperwork technicalities into some sort of scandal. This is one reason the public has such a woeful misunderstanding of how large-scale business enterprises work, and just how complicated the government regulatory regime is. The public therefore becomes vulnerable to ludicrous claims that politicians can run those operations better than private-sector businessmen can. The media deliberately mis-report a great deal of business news, or conveniently fail to convey important information to the reader.
As Bain managing partner Steve Pagliuca patiently explained to CNN, “Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney’s departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in various capacities on SEC filings during this period.” Pagliuca is a politically active Democrat who ran for the Senate in 2010.
By Thursday afternoon, the Romney campaign demanded a retraction from the Boston Globe, and campaign manager Matt Rhoades was calling for an apology from President Obama for the irresponsible actions of his campaign team: ???President Obama???s campaign hit a new low today when one of its senior advisers made a reckless and unsubstantiated charge to reporters about Mitt Romney that was so over the top that it calls into question the integrity of their entire campaign. President Obama ought to apologize for the out-of-control behavior of his staff, which demeans the office he holds. Campaigns are supposed to be hard fought, but statements like those made by Stephanie Cutter belittle the process and the candidate on whose behalf she works.???
Hopefully Rhoades wasn???t holding his breath waiting for an apology from this bitterly divisive and desperate President, because the reply from Obama press secretary Ben LaBolt was ???no.??? LaBolt continued, ???Romney has said he had no authority or responsibility for managing Bain since February 1999, but that has been proven false. He remained CEO, President, Chairman, sole owner and sole shareholder through 2001. Governor Romney either misled the American people about when he left Bain or misled the SEC. Which one is it? The Romney campaign still won???t say.???
We didn???t really need any more evidence that Barack Obama and his Party understand absolutely nothing about how business works. Marvel at the mind-set of a campaign running on the premise that the incumbent President is utterly helpless to affect the economy, but the American people are supposed to become less likely to vote for Mitt Romney because he???s accused of secretly managing a huge investment capital firm after he left to spend over a hundred hours per week working on the successful rescue of the utterly disastrous Salt Lake City Olympics. Gasp in wonder at the foolishness of the people who think Romney???s separation from Bain would have been as swift and crisp as a teenage boy quitting a part-time job at McDonald???s to spend a summer helping his dad renovate the basement. And above all, feel the horror of this out-of-touch, out-of-ideas President clinging so desperately to false negative campaign narratives because he???s got nothing else to run on, as the private sector he thinks is ???doing fine??? collapses in ruin under the weight of his poor governance.
Update: It occurs to me that Barack Obama’s closest encounter with private-sector employment was the no-show job his wife Michelle scored as “vice president of community relations” at a Chicago hospital – where her salary more than doubled, to over $300k, after her husband became a U.S. Senator, and quickly secured a million dollars in taxpayer funding for her employers. The job instantly vanished the moment Michelle Obama left. The President must think Romney’s departure from Bain Capital should have worked just like that.