Yesterday’s Globe article about Mitt Romney’s departure (or lack of same) from Bain has proven to be very much the bombshell that its authors and editors no doubt hoped it would be. The Romney camp’s embarrassingly lame explanation that describing him as the CEO was merely a technicality because Bain couldn’t get its sh!t together for almost three years to sort out its internal affairs once Romney left … well, that’s just sad. And it’s not convincing anyone.
Today’s follow-up presents a new and exceedingly difficult problem for Romney. Drawing on reports that I think were first published at the Huffington Post (and are this time properly acknowledged), the Globe notes that Romney’s effort to prove to the State Ballot Law Commission that he was a Massachusetts resident eligible to run for Governor included some sworn testimony that may now prove problematic.
In 2002, facing a ballot challenge from Democrats — who contended he had moved his residence to Utah — Romney testified before the state Ballot Law Commission as a gubernatorial candidate that “there were a number of social trips and business trips that brought [him] back to Massachusetts, board meetings” while he was running the Olympics.
Romney said he remained on the boards of several companies, including the Lifelike Co., in which Bain Capital held a stake until 2001. The Huffington Post and MSNBC also carried reports Thursday night about Romney’s continued membership on the Lifelike board.
TPM piles on.
Mitt Romney testified to Massachusetts officials in 2002 that he maintained business ties during his Olympics work, undermining his argument that he had no connection to Bain Capital or related companies after 1999. Notably, his campaign has refused to deny whether he ever held meetings with Bain during his time in Salt Lake City.
Romney, who at the time was trying to convince the state Ballot Law Commission that he should be allowed to run for office in Massachusetts despite living in Utah the previous three years, did not directly address his work with Bain Capital. But, in testimony obtained by the Huffington Post, Romney said that he returned home for “a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth.”
Romney noted that he remained an active member of the board at Staples, where Bain was an early investor and a company Romney frequently cites on the trail, and LifeLike, a toy company where Bain was heavily invested at the time.
A spokesman for the Romney campaign declined to answer questions from Politico regarding whether Romney attended any meetings in person or phone with Bain during his Olympic leave, saying only that he had no “active role.”
There’s really no way out of this. Romney wants credit for the jobs at Staples. He also doesn’t want to undercut his testimony in Massachusetts, which after all was given under oath. That makes it impossible for him to deny that he was showing up at board meetings after the February 1999 cutoff date. But if he was showing up at board meetings, it’s simply not credible for him to maintain that his name on Bain-related SEC documents was nothing more than a technicality.
Checkmate. This round goes to Obama; it remains to be seen how important it is. BuzzFeed has a nice take on how perfectly Team Obama set up the Romney gang for this, all of which lends support to Rupert Murdoch’s concern that Romney’s campaign is not up to the task.