Why does it matter when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital?
Millions of dollars of attack ads by the Obama campaign are hanging in the balance. If Romney left Bain in February 1999, when he departed to run the Olympics, then a number of business deals that went sour (such as KB Toys) can’t be counted as part of Romney’s tenure. If he actually left in 2002, as the Obama campaign alleges, then those deals are fair game.
We have looked at this issue before, back in January, and thought we had settled it.
But now the Boston Globe has raised the issue again. The story seems to hinge on a quote from a former Securities and Exchange Commission member, which would have more credibility if the Globe had disclosed she was a regular contributor to Democrats. (Interestingly, “The Real Romney,” a book on the former Massachusetts governor, by Boston Globe reporters, states clearly that he left Bain when he went to run the Olympics and details the turmoil that ensued when he suddenly quit, nearly breaking up the partnership)
We’re considering whether to once again take a deeper look at this, though it really feels like Groundhog Day again. There appears to be some confusion about how partnerships are structured and managed, or what SEC documents mean. (Just because you are listed as an owner of shares does not mean you have a managerial role.)
Fortune obtained the offering documents for a Bain Capital Fund circulating in June 2000, as well as a fund in 2001. None of the documents show that Romney was listed as being among the “key investment professionals.” As Fortune put it, “the contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain — which, one should note, is different from no longer having legal or financial ties to the firm.”
The part about lying to the SEC is absurd, since the SEC doesn’t require an owner to be the operational decision-maker (Romney delegated such responsibilities, as is his right).