The Globe Editorial: Did Romney approve of Bain’s practices after 1999?
Depending on his political circumstances, Mitt Romney has argued that he had nothing to do with Bain Capital after 1999 — or something to do with Bain Capital after 1999.
As a presidential candidate, Romney insists that he quit the firm in 1999 to lead the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and is not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date. But in 2002, when he was running for governor of Massachusetts, Romney put a different spin on his departure from Bain Capital. In testimony before the state Ballot Law Commission, he described his exit as a “leave of absence” and said he met the residency requirement because social and Bain Capital-related business trips brought him back regularly to Massachusetts. He also testified that he remained on the board of several companies in which Bain had a stake until 2001.
In fact, documents filed after 1999 with various regulatory agencies appear to show that Romney continued to be involved with Bain Capital. Last week, the Globe reported that documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission after 1999 listed Romney as the firm’s sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president. Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form that Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002 and earned at least $100,000 as a Bain Capital “executive” in 2001 and 2002. Other media outlets have turned up documents that describe Romney as a managing director or member after 1999.
The larger question is what Romney thinks of the company’s business decisions, whether or not he had any say in them after 1999. Bain Capital was his baby. He built it, nurtured it, and reaped great financial rewards from its successes. Does he approve of how the company operated during his leave of absence, even if its approach sometimes called for dismantling companies and cutting jobs? Defenders argue that private-equity firms deliver tough but necessary medicine for failing companies. Does Romney believe that decisions Bain Capital made after 1999 fall into that category? If not, what would he have done differently?