The Obama re-election campaign “is blowing smoke” with its claims that Securities and Exchange Commission documents about Mitt Romney’s role with Bain Capital should prompt a criminal investigation, a fact check by The Washington Post
The comments by campaign officials were prompted by recent revelations in the Boston Globe that SEC filings appear to show that Romney was still active in Bain after he left to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. The dates are important because of some of the investments made by Bain between 1999 and 2002.
"Romney and Bain claim that he was not involved with Bain, but Bain and its portfolio companies in their required filings under the Securities Exchange Act continuously certified to the Securities and Exchange Commission say precisely the opposite — asserting without qualification that he was a controlling person, fully in charge of Bain, under the Federal securities law. Under normal circumstances, the question of the truth of this representation would result in an investigation by the SEC into possible criminal, as well as civil, violations of the law," Robert Bauer, Obama’s campaign counsel, said, according to the Post.
However, the Post fact checker wrote, “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.)”
Securities law experts told the Post that titles listed in the documents “are basically meaningless, that someone can be listed as a chief executive and actually have no responsibilities whatsoever.”
The Post noted that “there is grey area about Romney’s involvement with Bain in the 1999-2002 period,” but added that a 2002 Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission report that certified that Romney could run for governor concluded that Romney ended his work at Bain in 1999.
“The Obama campaign is blowing smoke here . . . The weight of evidence suggests that Romney did in fact end active management of Bain in 1999,” the Post concluded. “He stated that in a federal disclosure form he signed, under threat of criminal penalties. He said he was a ‘former employee’ in a state disclosure form. A state commission concluded 10 years ago that he did, indeed, leave Bain in 1999. Investors in Bain funds were told he was not part of the management team.”
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