Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
For years, Mitt Romney claimed he wasn’t responsible for Bain Capital’s more controversial business activities because he had separated from (sometimes he calls it “left”) the company in 1999. Documents now show he signed reporting documents to the SEC listing him as sole owner and principle executive of all of Bain Capital and its subsidiaries past 1999, all the way up to 2002. This opens him up politically to a lot of attacks. And even possible SEC penalties for the discrepancy.
Spin wise, it’s going to be hard to walk away from the corner Mitt Romney is now boxed in. If he continues to plow through with the same argument, he will be saying that he’s a business man that though he owns the company, holds the title of chairman, CEO, managing partner, owns 100% of the stock and entitled to 100% of the profits up to 2002, how could he possibly be responsible for the company activities?
Any businessperson, (I’ve run and owned two companies) know that’s not possible. Just in the legal business sense, you’re responsible. Or, at least the government thinks so. And you have to tell the SEC through filings if there are material changes to your business. Like change in ownership. And Bain Capital did not do that in their filings.
Spin lines say Mitt Romney may have “left” Bain capital to go run the Olympics. But that’s like saying like a when I leave my car, I’m not responsible for the car loan and insurance on the car—even though I signed documents saying I’m the owner and signatory. Doesn’t matter where I am. Or that I’m letting other people drive my car. It’s about the documents I signed. And Mitt Romney continually signed documents saying he owns the company. I’d think a smart businessman like Mitt Romney knows the consequences of signing legal documents.
This is a big problem for Mitt Romney. There is no explanation out of this mess that isn’t embarrassing or doesn’t take a chunk out of his businessman narrative or perception of integrity.
Since, right now, it seems like they aren’t going to dispute the filed SEC documents. Politically he’s left to either argue:
1. He’s technically not responsible because he’s been an absent-but-still-legally-responsible CEO. “Thank you” say the Obama Campaign. That should make people wonder how that will transfer to being the nation’s CEO.
2. He gave false information to the SEC. Or he’s lied about his record to the public. Pick who you want to disappoint there.
3. Plus either option or time discussing this issue puts the topic of Bain Capital back in the spotlight. A topic that polls show have hurt him in blue collar and swing states. A second pass where some of the issues Romney was able to dismiss before (outsourcing jobs, abortion related businesses, dissolving pensions) might stick.
I’m sure his campaign team is working furiously on how to talk about this. Fox News was silent about this Thursday night. That usually means they’re waiting for a messaging strategy or narrative to use. I’d say check Fox and Friends Friday morning for the first effort of a push back. Usually in Fox & Friends’ style of mixing the new talking points in casual seeming chat. My guess, some form of “What’s the big deal? He was at the Olympics!” I’m curious to see. I’ll post a clip if I can.
From Today’s Fox & Friends coverage to the news shows following on Fox looks like Fox is going to stick to the story of the day, the clip of “President Obama admitting his biggest mistake in office.” A common Fox tactic. Ignoring a growing story usually means that they don’t know how (or don’t have marching orders how) to talk about it yet. But if the story doesn’t fall out of the news cycle, they’ll start addressing it soon.