CNN reported last night that the accusations from Team Obama of felonious conduct are sheer nonsense and lies — and got that message from four executives at Bain, two of whom are “active” supporters of Barack Obama. John King spoke to all four, three of whom are Democrats, and all four said that Mitt Romney left Bain in a big hurry in 1999 in order to work full time on rescuing the Salt Lake City Olympics. The rushed departure created a lot of paperwork headaches as Bain tried to unwind Romney from leadership, which required a significant amount of time. That’s why the company had Romney’s name on their SEC paperwork the next two years, as King reports:
CNN isn’t alone in debunking the ludicrous charge of felonious conduct made by Team Obama. FactCheck concluded that even with the “new” evidence produced by the Boston Globe, it still points to the same conclusion:
None of the SEC filings show that Romney was anything but a passive, absentee owner during that time, as both Romney and Bain have long said. It should not surprise anyone that Romney retained certain titles while he was working out the final disposition of his ownership, for example….
We would reassess our judgment should somebody come up with evidence that Romney took part in specific management decisions or had any active role (not just a title) at Bain after he left to head the Olympics. But nothing we’ve seen directly contradicts Romney’s statements — which he has certified as true under pain of federal prosecution — that he “has not had any active role” with Bain or “been involved in the operations” of Bain since then.
And we wish to note, we’re not alone in this judgement.
FactCheck links to the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, as I did this morning, as well as to Fortune’s Dan Primack in his July 2 review of the same data, this time from a Mother Jones “exposé.” Primack also has an update, and it also debunks the Obama campaign’s accusations:
But 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.
As Fortune wrote earlier, Romney left Bain suddenly — rather than as part of an organized transition plan — after being asked to lead an Olympic organizing committee that had spiraled out of control. Moreover, it was unclear in February 1999 if Romney’s leave of absence would be permanent, or if he would return (as he had in 1994, after losing a U.S.Senate race to Ted Kennedy). He didn’t formally give up his title and firm ownership until 2002, once the Games had been successful and he was interested in other elective office. In the interim, he continued to fulfill legal obligations such as signing certain documents — but actual investment and managerial decisions were being made by others.
Put it simply: Team Obama is lying, and it continues to lie about Romney. They are desperate to find a way to make Romney’s time at Bain work in their favor, and that desperation has nearly reached pathological levels. Still, for Obama, it beats talking about the economy, jobs, the deficit, and anything else that actually matters to voters.