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July 15, 2012 11:22 AM Boston Globe to Romney: You’re So Bain

By Adele Stan

Instead of issuing the “correction” that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee-apparent, has requested of the Boston Globe, the Globe yesterday doubled down on its reporting regarding Romney’s involvement with Bain Capital during a period, 1999 - 2002, when Romney claims he had already “retired” from the company. Particularly damning is a quote from Romney’s own attorney during a state Ballot Law Commission hearing convened to determine whether Romney had standing to run for governor in 2002, after having spent the previous three years in Utah, managing the Olympics. From the July 14 Globe story:

“He succeeded in that three-year period in restoring confidence in the Olympic Games, closing that disastrous deficit and staging one of the most successful Olympic Games ever to occur on US soil,” said Peter L. Ebb from Ropes & Gray.
“Now while all that was going on, very much in the public eye, what happened to his private and public ties to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? And the answer is they continued unabated just as they had.”
The Romney campaign declined to comment on the record about whether the business trips and board meetings were related to Bain Capital obligations.

One would hope that this latest report would convince the Washington Post’s ace fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, to reconsider the three “Pinocchios” he awarded the Obama campaign for asserting that Romney either remained involved with Bain during the period for which he claims he did not, or he lied to a federal agency — in this case, the Security and Exchange Commission, for filings in which he was listed as CEO and sole shareholder in Bain during the period under question.

Kessler began his post this way:

There is a journalistic convention that appears to place great weight on “SEC documents.” But these are public filings by companies, which usually means there are not great secrets hidden in them. The Fact Checker, in an earlier life covering Wall Street, spent many hours looking for jewels in SEC filings.

Translation: Journalists take too seriously the information on documents filed with the federal government by corporations.

He goes on:

Despite the furor, we did not see much new in the Globe article. We had examined many SEC documents related to Romney and Bain in January, and concluded that much of the language saying Romney was “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” was boilerplate that did not reveal whether he was actually managing Bain at the time. (For instance, there is no standard definition of a “chief executive,” securities law experts say, and there is no requirement for anyone to have any responsibilities even if they have that title.)

Translation: It all depends on what the definition of “CEO” is. Unfortunately, the journalistic convention that “chief executive officer” is the top official of a company on account of being the “chief” (not to mention an “executive” and an “officer,” though not necessarily a gentleman), is sadly misguided.

That being the case, does that mean that Washington Post CEO Donald Graham might be secretly retired, and actually have no responsibility for anything taking place at the company? Just askin’.

UPDATE: Darn! I thought I was being brilliantly creative with that headline, but apparently I’m not the only one for whom it came to mind. Here’s a song parody poised to go viral.

Comments

  • Tigershark on July 15, 2012 11:41 AM:

    Question for the Governor: "Were you lying then, or are you lying now?"

  • Mad_nVt on July 15, 2012 11:56 AM:

    More questions for the Governor:

    "Have you simply changed your mind?"

    "Or is your position evolving?"

    "Are you flip-flopping?"

    "Perhaps you are a fish-out-of-water and are finding that evolution is not so easy. How's your breathing?"

    "Say, what are your views on evolution?"

  • T-Rex on July 15, 2012 12:04 PM:

    Looks like Romney isn't used to dealing with people who don't take orders from him.

  • stormskies on July 15, 2012 12:13 PM:

    Wonder when Glenn Kessler will decide to stand up straight again, pulling up his pants instead of being bent over with pants down for the corporate automaton Romney ...

  • N.Wells on July 15, 2012 12:16 PM:

    He's so used to saying whatever is convenient that he can no longer keep his fibs straight. That he is getting slammed on this now is his previous laxity with the truth coming home to roost: he's lost all credibility and good will so he's not getting the benefit of the doubt that might well be extended in normal circumstances.

    Personally, I've got my fingers crossed that the SEC will launch a lengthy investigation into whether his recent statements imply that he lied to them earlier, if only to up the ante for all the other CEOs considering whether or not to stretch the truth when filing their paperwork.

  • N.Wells on July 15, 2012 12:18 PM:

    I meant to add, nice headline, Adele

  • RL Alitheia on July 15, 2012 12:34 PM:

    "One would hope that this latest report would convince the Washington Post’s ace fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, to reconsider the three “Pinocchios” he awarded the Obama campaign..."

    Not. Holding. Breath.

  • c u n d gulag on July 15, 2012 12:38 PM:

    Parsing the term, "CEO?"

    Isn't that got Bill Clinton in hot water, when he parsed the meaning of what "is" is, and what "sexual relations" are?

    Mitt thinks THIS is bad?

    Look at what the Clinton's, especially Hillary, went through for turning what, $12,000 into $100,000.

    Jeez, $100,000?
    That's Mitts "Mad Money" for the week! For doing whatever it is that Mormons do for fun.

  • majun on July 15, 2012 12:42 PM:

    For my money the two key questions are: If the SEC had a problem with anything that Bain was doing between 1999 - 2002, and who would they turn to take responsibility for any wrong doing? If Romney was nothing but a name on a form, as far as Bain Capital was concerned, why were they paying him a salary of over 100K per year?

    If the answer to question number one is Mitt Romney, then either Bain is lying that he had nothing to do with management of the company, or Romney is a complete fool, letting his name be used on official government documents that would make him liable for the misdeeds of others. The answer to question number 2 goes to the actual business ethics of Romney and his colleagues at Bain. Who would waste so much money on a figurehead? We aren't looking at profits from his stake in the company, we are looking at a company expense, that would detract from those profits that all the participants share in. Who pays 100K per annum for some stuffed shirt to sign his name on a couple of documents?

    The best explanation that they could possibly come up with is that Romney was signing the SEC filings as a figurehead, having absolutely no idea of what Bain was doing, making himself liable for any wrongdoing committed by Bain during those years and the big salary was to compensate him for that risk. And somebody would actually consider voting for that fool for POTUS?

  • c u n d gulag on July 15, 2012 12:44 PM:

    Somehow, the rest of my comment disappeared:

    Where's Mitt's "Whitewater" grilling?
    Is this it?

    If he and his staff had any brains, and there was nothing illegal in what he's done, then, back in May when he clinched the nomination, they should have released all of the tax returns and all other documents.
    And by now, it would all be old news.
    Mitt's rich - we all knew, and know, that.

    Now, he looks guiltier and guiltier with every passing day.

    He's had over 6 years of campaigning knowing this day might come - and probably would - does anyone with a half-a-brain want this man running what is still the most powerful country in the world?

    After 6 years, "My dog ate it," or, "I'll NEVAH TELL!" aren't really indicative of great planning, which is indicative of solid leadership.

  • tcinaz on July 15, 2012 12:48 PM:

    Romney is a serial liar who has forgotten which lies he told when and why. Thus, his current lies are transparent. Yet he still believes, despite his casual relationship with the truth, that he is entitled to the presidency. Probably the best place to start entitlement reform would be with good ol' Mitt.

  • Mimikatz on July 15, 2012 12:51 PM:

    Mitt didn't get $100,000 for his non-existent services to Bain in 1999-2002, he got OVER that amount. He could have gotten the $20 million a year he got under his retroactive severance agreement he negotiated after he won for Governor of Mass. We won't know without seeing his tax returns for those years, which is why we probably won't see them.

    Mitt clearly says whatever is most convenient for him at any given moment and is not used to being questioned about it. Mitt is the one who proved that favts don't count in campaigning. Obama should borrow Triman's line about "I'll stop telling the truth about eir record when they stop lying about mine."

    avarisp character,?

  • Adele M. Stan on July 15, 2012 1:11 PM:

    Tigershark states the crux of the matter, which I took several paragraphs to articulate, in nine words. Nails it.

    N. Wells posts: >>Personally, I've got my fingers crossed that the SEC will launch a lengthy investigation into whether his recent statements imply that he lied to them earlier, if only to up the ante for all the other CEOs considering whether or not to stretch the truth when filing their paperwork.

    Alas, I don't have enough hope in that possibility to risk the finger cramps. But pleasant surprises are welcome. And thanks for the kind words!

    Mad_nVT: Literally LOL, especially your last line.

    c u n d gulag: >>After 6 years, "My dog ate it," or, "I'll NEVAH TELL!" aren't really indicative of great planning, which is indicative of solid leadership.

    Did the dog eat it while strapped to the car roof? Just askin'

  • TCinLA on July 15, 2012 1:12 PM:

    It all depends on what the definition of “CEO” is.

    Back when I was in the Navy, the ship I was on collided with the tanker it was refueling from, due to the fact it was off-course by 1/2-degree. The starboard screw was so badly damaged the ship had to limp into Yokosuka and go into drydock for close to a month for repairs. The Navy didn't go off the seaman who was at the helm and was actually 1/2 degree off-course. They went after the Captain, since the commanding officer is responsible for everything.

    I think the public is getting tired of all these kleptomaniac CEOs we've watched for the past 20 years who had "absolutely no idea" what was going on in the company they were in charge of when the shit hits the fan and it's discovered they were robbing everyone blind. And that is going to be Romoney's problem going on from here.

    It was fun to watch CBS Face The Nation run the new Obama ad THREE TIMES in the course of the show, making sure that all kinds of people who wouldn't have seen it around the country where it isn't being played have now seen it. I think that might have been the point: make an ad that becomes "news" on its own. Just like the "Daisies" ad that only played twice as an ad in 1964, and 500 times on the news.

  • R on July 15, 2012 1:14 PM:

    It's been a long time since I lived in the D.C. burbs and read the Post every day. It's sad to see what a rag it has become.

    I'm sick of hearing that those of us who aren't "job creators" just don't understand the business world, in which there is "no standard definition of a 'chief executive'." Love the translations, A.S. As others have asked, if Romney wasn't ever in charge from 1999 - 2002, who was? At what salary? Did Romney state any concerns about the decisions that were made on his behalf?

    What we may get out of all of this is a closer look at the shambolic reality of the business world so revered by Republicans. A pay-for-performance meritocracy? That somehow doesn't fit with $100,000 per year for doing nothing, no matter what the "securities law experts" say about it, leaving aside the question of why Romney wants to distance himself from Bain's, um, performance during those years.

  • golack on July 15, 2012 1:17 PM:

    so Mitt's going to run the US like he ran Bain, Mr. "I'm not responsible"....

    On Sun morn. talk shows, unchallenged talking points, "no it's Obama who's forcing companies to out source...he's the outsourcer in chief". (or along those lines)

  • Christiaan on July 15, 2012 1:18 PM:

    Well, you know, a Chief Executive Officer is neither a chief, nor an executive, nor an officer. He also has no responsibility whatsoever.

    He is, however, a Job Creator (unlike people who actually do come to the office), and deserves every single million that comes his way, and much, much, more (unlike the moochers who get themselves fired because there was no money left after paying the bonuses).

  • patrick II on July 15, 2012 1:31 PM:

    Kessler: There is a journalistic convention that appears to place great weight on “SEC documents.” But these are public filings by companies, which usually means there are not great secrets hidden in them.

    "not great secrets hidden in them" -- Yeah, we know. it is supposed to be the plain truth, under penalty of perjury. The plain truth of the "SEC documents" in question is that Romney was sole proprietor, president, and CEO of Bain Capital.

    By distorting the statement of the plain facts found into the document into some sort of "hidden secrets", Kessler proves himself to be a clever liar.

  • jcricket on July 15, 2012 1:36 PM:

    He signed documents with the SEC that said he was sole shareholder, CEO, President and some other titles that dovetail into those.

    Now, he says he was a figurehead and wasn't responsible for any management decisions - BUT he wants to be the chief executive of the US government and points to his experience with Bain as his qualifications.

    So, who will really be running the government? The ultra-conservative madmen who want to start wars on trumped up 'evidence'? Or bankers who want even more access to what few pension and retirement dollars the average citizen is counting on to be there?

    Romney is a Trojan Horse to let in the worst that could befall the average American.

  • howard on July 15, 2012 1:49 PM:

    i've made this comment before, but what the hell:

    romney was the SOLE OWNER.

    what more does kessler need to know?

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 15, 2012 1:57 PM:

    TCinLA:

    The thing about the captain of the ship metaphor is that Romney's been arguing the same thing about Obama. I suppose if we take it to an extreme, Obama's to blame for the economy and Romney's to blame for outsourcing so we should all turn in blank ballots.

    The difference, of course, is that Obama's been captaining a ship with three bridges; one of those is occupied by people who would (as Hoyer put it) gladly sink the ship to drown the captain. Maybe Romney will argue that he, too, was being sabotaged by those sneaky Bain underlings.

    In any case, "I didn't know anything about this company I was supposedly running," isn't exactly a convincing pitch to become chief executive of the USA.

  • Joe Friday on July 15, 2012 2:01 PM:

    Kessler: "We had examined many SEC documents related to Romney and Bain in January, and concluded that much of the language saying Romney was 'sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president' was boilerplate that did not reveal whether he was actually managing Bain at the time."

    How about Willard being listed as the "Managing Director", think that might have anything to do with managing ?

  • j on July 15, 2012 2:03 PM:

    The Romney campaign poor things are so upset that so much time is being spent on Bain.
    Bain is Mitt Romney's reason for his qualification to be president (in his mind) the only reason, what else can we spend time on other than his taxes and being a serial liar?

  • Joe on July 15, 2012 2:09 PM:

    Does anyone think for a microsecond that if President Obama had "passive" ownership of a company that disposed of aborted fetuses that Romney's SuperPACs would have flooded the airwaves with that message from now until election day.

    As Mitt Romney would say, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."

  • Kathryn on July 15, 2012 2:21 PM:

    Go Boston Globe, the Mitt crowd has gotten a free ride for way too long. He is, as TCinAz says a serial liar, epic really. What is truly breathtaking is his arrogance. Mitt cannot believe anyone would question him despite video tape, contradictory records and quotes in newspapers, etc.
    Also, those tax records must be damning for him to dig in his loafers about releasing more of them. I doubt the cocky son of a gun will be pressured into releasing more tax records. I do believe that the cool, direct Pres. Obama will be able to rattle him easily in debates. Arrogance and thin skin can be exploited and Romney is afflicted with both.


  • Anonymous on July 15, 2012 2:33 PM:

    Kessler is a known hack and a master of semantics. Apparently he thinks readers are too stupid to catch on.

  • Ron Byers on July 15, 2012 2:46 PM:

    We need to adopt a word for a shameless brain dead corporate shill journalist who is willing to support anything a Republican candidate says. I think Kessler might be a good word. In this case Kessler is Kesslering.

    For me the story ended when I heard he was the sole stockholder (owner) of Bain Capital. A sole owner might call himself any of several names, but if you are the sole owner of a company that has earned you a couple of hundred million dollars, you might delegate "day to day" management to work for the Olympics, but you never delegate overall control. You ask for and review reports at least on a weekly basis, and more probably daily.

    The idea that Romney is incapable of both running the Olympics and giving over all supervision to his main investment at the same time is disqualifying all by itself.

  • Ronald on July 15, 2012 2:51 PM:

    What is going to resonate is the idea that he as 'President and CEO' of his company.

    _regular people_ aren't going to make the hair-splitting designation between 'ownership' and 'control'.

    They are going to simply associate 'President' with 'Responsible'. After all, isn't that what Romney's own ads have been pushing for weeks and weeks? If President Obama is responsible for everything that's happened in the Government since he was elected, then Romney is responsible for everything under his control as 'President' of Bain.

    The whole 'Steri-lite' story is a big part of the reason for the coverup. The Evangelicals would in no way be able to support Mitt with any vigor if it was found he made money on irradiating and burning aborted fetuses, or was in any way responsible for signing any document that said he had any control of knowledge of that company.

    The rate this whole thing is breaking, is is possible that we really are going to see a brokered convention, since Mitt will be so weak by next month at this pace as to be unelectable?

    Current predictions are that Obama is a 2:1 favorite right now, and I would be willing to bet that as this story continues to linger into next week that those odds will only improve.

    I've said it before, I'll say it again: Pass the popcorn, this is a summer blockbuster to remember!

  • TCinLA on July 15, 2012 2:56 PM:

    Has anyone noticed the deafening silence coming from one John McCain on this topic? McCain is the one Republican (well, Steve Smith really knows the details) besides Romney who knows what's in those 23 years of tax returns, and he's not saying anything in defense of Romney. I think he's following the "Thumper Rule" (as expounded in "Bambi"): if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!

    And, after McCain knew what was in Romney's records, he went out and chose Sarah Palin!

    But all this is just coincidence, right? Right?

  • Ronald on July 15, 2012 3:00 PM:

    Stericycle, sorry.
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/romney-bain-abortion-stericycle-sec

    And Adele, that was a great headline. :D

  • schtick on July 15, 2012 3:04 PM:

    "T-Rex on July 15, 2012 12:04 PM:
    Looks like Romney isn't used to dealing with people who don't take orders from him."


    That and he can't deal with the idea that he can't fire them either.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 15, 2012 3:04 PM:

    Ron Byers:

    Great point about the delegation / time management. And it's thrown into sharper relief by the fact that, to my understanding, Obama is just a phenomenal delegator.

  • R on July 15, 2012 3:28 PM:

    Agreed on the headline. If you can bear to sort through all of the comments after Paul Krugman's blog post -- http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/14/no-bain-no-gain/ -- someone has adapted the entire Carly Simon song. Posted at 11:39 am July 14. Pretty clever, though the "your horse naturally won" didn't need any adjustment at all.

    Captcha: "crumpurp Sunday." What's a crumpurp in corporate-speak? Dictionary definition of "crump" : "a loud thudding sound, esp. one made by an exploding bomb or shell." Urp.

  • leopoldvonranke on July 15, 2012 3:28 PM:

    What really should concern people about Romney is that he still, at minimum, owns interests in all these "entities," and thus will have a vested interest, as President, in maximizing their profit at the expense of the rest of us, without regard to whether he quit "active" participation in 1999 or 2002 or 2008 or last month.

  • exlibra on July 15, 2012 3:54 PM:

    "Serial liar" is a good way to describe Mitt R-Money, as is "congenital liar". There's yet another term: "mythomaniac". And, strangely enough, the Polish version of it -- mitoman -- even has Mitt's name in it :)

  • Cha on July 15, 2012 3:58 PM:

    tcinaz.."...casual realation with the truth"? willard wouldn't know the truth if it smacked him upside the head..he would refuse to acknowledge it.

  • RL Alitheia on July 15, 2012 4:03 PM:

    TCinLA,
    Just as a small correction, the Daisy Girl ad actually only ran once before it was pulled and played "virally" by news organizations.

  • N.Wells on July 15, 2012 4:59 PM:

    Good point about McCain's silence by TC.

    I'm thinking that Romney is indeed trying to duck being associated with Stericycle and massive outsourcing and bankruptcies, but the fight over whether he was lying now or then is even worse for him. People won't buy that Romney, as sole owner and CEO of record, didn't know anything and wasn't responsible.

    All an attack ad needs to do is run a clip of Romney saying "I left all management of Bain Capital in February 1999", show forms listing him as sole owner, CEO, and Managing Director after that,
    ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/mitt-romney-bain-sec_n_1671819.html ), and put up text saying, "Do you really want to trust this guy with your country?"

  • Fuzzy Kisser on July 15, 2012 5:10 PM:

    I think we're talking about the wrong topic - it should be, who will the Repubs actually nominate? Paul? I think that's the real question.

  • bdop4 on July 15, 2012 5:22 PM:

    TCinLA,

    I am 99.9% certain that the McCain campaign signed Nondisclosure Agreements with large liquidated damages penalties, so McCain will not say anything. Even if he tried to defend Romney, it might be come back to damage him and then they could sue under the agreement.

    But the fact he saw 23 years of returns and then chose Sarah Palin speaks volumes.

  • Joe Friday on July 15, 2012 5:41 PM:

    In order to stem Willard's repeated changing of pants (because they keep catching on fire), the campaign is now revising their story to: Romney retired RETROACTIVELY.

  • Robert on July 15, 2012 7:51 PM:

    I'm kinda chuckling about a spurious and random thought about what just might be hiding in them thar taxes...It could be hiding other "Families"? Ya know what I'm saying here....Ol' Jeffers was a Morman too, also. No judgement no link other than to the cosmos....I mean the internet.

  • leopoldvonranke on July 15, 2012 11:06 PM:

    Been thinking of the "Was Romney the CEO or not the CEO?" question in terms of quantum physics -- i.e. Schrodinger's cat. Wondering, if we could look inside the box, would he be the CEO or the not CEO? RIght now, he seems to be in a state of quantum entanglement.

  • Ron Byers on July 15, 2012 11:58 PM:

    Romney is caught in a quantum entanglement. I love it. Most reporters and nearly every policial junky don't have a clue about Schrodinger's cat in the box, but those who do are smiling.

  • jcricket on July 16, 2012 12:59 AM:

    nice reference, leopoldvonranke, very nice!

  • melior on July 16, 2012 1:23 AM:

    But if you weren't running Bain, Willard... who was?

  • OC on July 16, 2012 2:56 AM:

    I have read many, many SEC documents. If Glenn Kessler thinks "there are no great secrets hidden in them," either he hasn't read many SEC filings or he stopped reading before he reached the good parts. For the readers' sakes, I hope his editors replaced him with a more diligent reporter before an Enron wandered into their sights.

  • goterpsgo on July 16, 2012 10:20 AM:


    Anonymous on July 15, 2012 2:33 PM:

    Frank Luntz is a known hack and a master of semantics. Apparently he thinks readers are too stupid to catch on.

    FTFY.

  • paul on July 16, 2012 10:40 AM:

    It's much simpler. Romney was just a "no-show" worker. His friends and former associates were paying him what was essentially pocket change for them. And the money came from the banks they borrowed from and workers they fired anyway, so no big.