Bill Clinton was on the shady side of the truth when he avoided answering a question by telling interrogators it all depends on what the definition of “is” is.
Today that gymnastic circumlocution looks honest and straightforward next to the rhetorical contortions Mitt Romney is undergoing. He and his cohort are trying to explain away reams of contradictions in various federal filings regarding his role at Bain Capital, the money machine he founded but claims to have left early in 1999, before it began sending American jobs overseas. See no outsourcing, hear no outsourcing, speak no outsourcing.
Romney went ballistic when Barack Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, suggested he might be a liar and possibly even a felon because Bain’s annual filings for the Securities and Exchange Commission listed him as “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” through 2002. It also showed him getting a salary (not investment income) of “over $100,000” each of those three years.
Meanwhile, in documents filed before the Federal Election Commission in 2011, Romney attested that he “has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and had not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way” after February of 1999.
Not active but still drawing a salary of more than $100,000?
Clintonian explanations keep gushing forth. First Bain said that because his departure to run the Salt Lake Olympics was so sudden they didn’t have time to revise the documents—though SEC regulations require changes in those documents be filed within months. Then came the story that he was still president, CEO, etcetera, but had nothing to do with running the firm. Anyway it all depends on the definition of “entity.”
As that radical rag Forbes Magazine noted this weekend, Romney and Bain might easily be in violation of SEC regulations or, more feloniously, of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. If he was not the president, CEO, etcetera, while they claimed he was, it would mislead potential investors in the company. Sounds like Cutter was on the right track.
Just for good measure, Romney was listed as one of two “managing members” of Bain in annual reports filed as late as 2002 in Massachusetts, according to Bloomberg News.
But while there is no clear evidence of his actual managerial participation,
Romney said in other filings that he traveled back and forth between Salt Lake City and Boston to attend board meetings—of entities unspecified—suggesting he really was active between 1999 and 2002. If so, that would be a falsification on his federal election filing, which is indeed another possible felony.
The occasionally tough FEC—which prosecuted John Edwards—at least ought to take a look at all the contradictions within the conundrum of how a guy can be top dog in a company for three years, draw a hefty salary, but still not be involved in its operations. The SEC should also take a look—and someone check further for Advisers Act violations.
That’s the opinion of this Rosebud.
image Le Bain at the Salon des Refusés or Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass)