When one Romney considered leaving his successful business for public service, he made sure to relinquish pay, set up a new management team and officially step down as CEO. He left no gray area in terms of his corporate responsibilities overlapping other duties, as he told the press, because doing so would violate his principles. That was former Michigan Governor George Romney.
Archived news articles from the early sixties reveal a businessman and politician with a very different approach from that of his son Mitt, who now finds himself in an avoidable scandal over when he actually left his company, Bain Capital.
Mitt’s departure from Bain Capital was far less transparent. When Mitt Romney joined the Olympics organizing committee on February 11, 1999, did he take an official leave of absence with “no involvement in the management or investment activities” at Bain Capital, the private equity and investment firm he founded, or was he a “part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions,” as Boston media and a raft of documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission seem to suggest?
It’s a question that has the campaign suddenly floundering.
Romney’s team has gone into crisis mode, dispatching the candidate and his surrogates to combat accusations that he either misled investors over his role at Bain between 1999 and 2002, or provided a false statement on his recent ethics forms when he swore that he had no working relation to his firm during that period. So far, the blitz had led to more confusion and more pointed questions from the press.
The Obama campaign is quick to point out that Romney has taken credit for job gains by Bain companies from 1999 to 2002, yet has claimed that the outsourcing of jobs and the bankrupting of a steel mill company during those years can not be attributed to him given his supposed lack of involvement with the firm.
The spiraling controversy leaves much to ponder. Why didn’t Romney simply appoint an interim Bain CEO or officially demote himself during his leave of absence in Salt Lake City? If he cut off all involvement with Bain to run the Winter games, as Romney said on Friday in an interview with CNN, why did Romney spend the following years signing documents as the chief executive, while collecting over $100,000 in salary from his old firm?