Mitt Romney is now demanding an apology for the the Obama team’s offensive yesterday that claimed Romney either A) committed a felony or B) lied to the American people, after numerous reports reveal new details of Romney’s activity at Bain Capital.
Since first running for governor in 2002 Romney has maintained that he retired from Bain Capital in February 1999, at which time he distributed his voting shares to 26 different directors and washed his hands of the company to pursue a new job running the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Having left Bain at that time was important to his gubernatorial campaign as he was initially attacked for Bain’s record of destroying jobs after 1999—having retired in 1999 allowed him to defend his own record.
However The Boston Globe reports that numerous records, including nine SEC filings, show Romney listed as CEO, managing director and sole stockholder of Bain through 2002.
Either Romney lied to the SEC (a felony) in claiming to be CEO when he wasn’t, or he has been lying to the American public about having left in 1999.
Politico notes Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul said the Boston Globe “article is not accurate” because “[a]s Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999.”
But that misses the point: The Globe article doesn’t claim Romney was an active CEO after 1999. It’s saying that if he wasn’t, as the Romney camp now seems to be saying, then he apparently lied on his SEC filings, which is technically a felony.
If Romney had been acting CEO, you’d think emails and correspondence would surface showing he’d been active at the time. As the Globe piece points out, none have. However when he joined the Olympics in 2002 he deferred his salary there until after the games, and filings show he was still receiving a six-figure salary from Bain at the time. The Obama camp has called on Romney to prove whether or not he was employed by Bain during this time by releasing his tax records from those years, something Romney has resisted.
The Romney campaign as well as former Bush spokesman Tony Fratto say that SEC filings are complicated and the apparent contradiction is simply beyond the Obama team’s comprehension. But former SEC Commissioner Roberta S. Karmel told the Boston Globe “You can’t say statements filed with the SEC are meaningless. This is a fact in an SEC filing.”
All of which begs the question: What happens if Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, has committed a white-collar felony?
If there’s one lesson we can take away from Obama’s term it’s that America doesn’t currently prosecute financial crimes. Just yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported the deadline is fast approaching to prosecute for crimes stemming from the financial collapse. “Federal laws under which the Securities and Exchange Commission usually goes after alleged fraud and other misdeeds have a five-year statute of limitations,” WSJ reports. Some prosecutors are reportedly scrambling to file some suits under the deadline, but we all know nothing will come of this. The clock will quietly wind down and the Obama team can go back to courting the industry for donations with no threat of crisis-related prosecution hanging over everyone’s head.
Romney has long passed the five-year statue of limitations if he did indeed lie to the SEC about his role at Bain. No matter what the Obama team digs up there will be no consequence, other than casting Romney as untrustworthy. But that in itself would be worth more to the Obama campaign than a prosecution.