When the Boston Globe reported yesterday that Mitt Romney continued to be listed as Bain Capital’s president, CEO, chairman and sole shareholder on SEC documents long after he claims to have left the company, Bain responded with this explanation:
“Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney’s departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999,”
The problem with this: Romney himself provided a different – and more sensible – explanation when he appeared before the Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission in 2002:
“When I left my employer in Massachusetts in February of 1999 to accept the Olympic assignment, I left on the basis of a leave of absence, indicating that I, by virtue of that title, would return at the end of the Olympics to my employment at Bain Capital, but subsequently decided not to do so and entered into a departure agreement with my former partners, I use that in the colloquial sense, not legal sense, but my former partners,”
What Romney said a decade ago makes a lot more sense than what he and Bain are saying now.
When Romney agreed in early 1999 to run the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, there was no reason for him to think he’d jump right back into politics when the games were over – and every reason for him to assume he’d return to his private equity work. In fact, by 1999 he’d already taken two similar leaves of absence, one to run Bain and Company in 1991 and 1992 and another when he campaigned for the U.S. Senate from November 1993 to November 1994. After each of those leaves, he came right back to Bain Capital.
Romney now argues that February 1999 should be considered his exit date from Bain, and that he ceased to have any input into the company’s activities after that point. But it’s important to remember the circumstances under which he first made that claim.