The Romney campaign has deflected criticism of the former governor’s business record as head of Bain Capital by insisting that he cannot be held responsible for its actions following his departure in February of 1999. However, SEC documents unearthed by Mother Jones directly contradict the campaign’s assertion that Romney broke all ties with Bain after he left to head the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. The SEC filings show that Romney retained “share voting and dispositive power” over at least some of it activities after November of that year and played a role through at least the end of 1999.
Indeed, the Boston Herald reported in February of that year that Romney didn’t leave the company entirely, but merely took a leave of absence and would “stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions.” A press release confirmed this arrangement, noting that Romney was “currently on a part-time leave of absence.”
Romney, in other words, may have been involved in decisions that the campaign would rather voters forget. These include:
— Medical-waste firm disposing aborted fetuses. Bain Capital invested $75 million in the medical-waste disposal firm Stericycle, a target for anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses. The company had a record of safety violations, including a fine for “knowingly exposing workers to life-threatening diseases.” SEC filings name Romney as an individual who holds “voting and dispositive power” with respect to the stock owned by Bain.
— Firms offshoring jobs to low-wage countries. Bain Capital was the largest shareholder in Modus Media, which specialized in helping companies outsource their manufacturing. Bain became the majority shareholder in Stream International in 1999, which set up call centers overseas. The campaign’s defense was that Romney had left Bain in February of that year, but he clearly still retained ties to the firm.
— Loading a company with massive debt and causing it to cut 367 jobs. After purchasing Dade in the early 1990s, Bain “pushed Dade to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars” in April 1999. Dade bought half of Bain’s shares in the company, which led to layoffs that year and bankruptcy in 2002. It’s unclear to what extent Romney waas involved in the deal, but he was still advising Bain at the time.
Romney himself had claimed that he left the company in February of 2009. “Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way,” he wrote in an Office of Government Ethics report.