Mitt Romney still hasn’t provided an adequate answer over the question of whether he completely left Bain Capital in February of 1999, as he claimed on his ethics forms.
While the candidate sputters to rebut the growing mountain of evidence that he continued to maintain ties to the firm for three years after he supposedly left, much of his defense rests with a former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, Harvey Pitt. Pitt’s defense of Romney—claiming that Romney’s signature on Bain-related SEC documents during the years in question are insignificant—has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and on Meet the Press. He told the Times, among other outlets, that dozens of filings showing Romney was CEO of Bain between 1999 and 2002 had “nothing to do with who’s actually running Bain Capital.” Romney’s surrogates, like Ed Gillespie, have trotted out Pitt’s name to dismiss any questions from the press.
What the media hasn’t reported, however, is that Pitt is now a bank lobbyist with ties to Romney’s former firm.
Pitt, who was appointed by President George Bush to serve as SEC chair from 2001 to 2003, founded his own lobbying firm called Kalorama Partners LLC, which is registered to lobby the federal government on finance issues.
Pitt is actively lobbying on behalf of a Wall Street coalition of which Bain Capital is a member. According to meeting logs reviewed by The Nation from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Pitt had at least five Dodd-Frank related meetings with regulators last year on behalf of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), a trade association of speculators that represents dozens of over-the-counter derivative trading companies. Sankaty Advisors, the “credit and fixed income investment affiliate of Bain Capital,” is an active member of ISDA.
Mitt Romney’s current ethics disclosures show that he still derives an income from Sankaty Advisors.
As for Pitt’s persistent, and largely unchallenged, claim that Romney’s signature and listing on SEC documents as Bain’s chief executive from 1999-2002 is unimportant, there are conflicting opinions on this matter. Writing for Forbes.com, Peter Cohan spoke to a former SEC commissioner who told him that Romney may have violated the Advisers Act by misleading investors about the true nature of his involvement with Bain and its investment companies.
“If I were one of its investors, I would have wanted to know that Romney was out as CEO and that Bain Capital had appointed a highly talented individual to take Romney’s place,” notes Cohan.
Disregarding for a moment the legal consequences for Romney’s involvement with Bain post-1999, he still has not answered simple questions about why he continued to collect an income and travel back for business meetings during that period, and why he told reporters at the time that he was a part-time employee.
But as reporters cover this story, it’s likely Harvey Pitt will be injected into the conversation. It’s important that his ties to Bain Capital are disclosed.