Mitt Romney may need an Etch A Sketch for this testimony
Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 10:00 AM PDT
by Jed Lewison
Romney said that after he departed Bain in February 1999 he went through a transition period regarding his work in Boston.Two things about this:
When a lawyer challenging his eligibility asked Romney, "Did you remain more or less continuously in Salt Lake City from February '99 to the end of the year," Romney answered:Actually, there was some transition away from my work in Boston for the first few months and then I pretty much stayed there after.Trying to clarify this, the lawyer, after referring to this "transition," asked, "So from February through the end of the year you were pretty much full-time out in Utah, right?"
Romney replied: "Well again, the beginning of the year was a good deal of time back and forth, but towards the last half of the year it was pretty much exclusively in Utah."
- This is a clear statement from Mitt Romney himself that he continued to play an active role in Bain Capital's day-to-day affairs after the point at which he now says he had nothing to do with the company. Like the July, 1999 press release quoting Romney as Bain's "part-time" CEO and his statement to the Boston Herald that he would remain involved in the company's affairs, this can't be spun as a legal technicality.
- The fact that Romney says he was "pretty much exclusively in Utah" towards the end of 1999 does not support his claim that he had nothing to do with Bain. It is merely a reminder that he ran the winter Olympics, which we already knew.
Let me elaborate a little on that second point because it's an important one. Nobody has seriously argued that Mitt Romney ran Bain Capital on a daily basis from 1999 through 2002. He was running the Olympics. The argument Romney's critics have made is that even though he was running the Olympics, Romney also continued to own Bain Capital and continued to serve as its top corporate officer. Therefore, he had ultimate legal and moral responsibility for the firm, even if he wasn't the driving force behind every decision the company made during that time. The buck stopped with him. If something happened that he objected to, he had the power to stop it.
In my view, that's an airtight argument, but the Romney campaign obviously disputes it, apparently because a lot of bad things happened during that stretch and they don't want Mitt Romney to be held responsible for them. I don't really know how to make an effective argument against holding Romney responsible, and apparently they didn't either, because they decided to dispute the argument by denying that Romney had any role at the firm whatsoever. If that were true, it would have been a pretty good argument. But it wasn't true. And as David Corn's latest scoop illustrates, it turns out that Romney had more day-to-day involvement with the firm than we could have imagined.
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