During the last presidential debate, Obama criticized Romney for the fact that Bain Capital owns a company called Sensata that is firing 170 American workers and sending their jobs to China. Romney’s counter-attack was to claim that Obama’s pension is also invested in Chinese companies. Laura Clawson shows why this is nonsense:
See, Obama has between $50,000 and $100,000 in a defined benefit pension plan from the Illinois General Assembly (PDF). The Illinois General Assembly retirement system has some Sensata Technologies stock. So, uh, everyone look at Obama! He too stands to profit from Sensata—in 11 years when he becomes eligible to collect his pension from two jobs ago, a pension in which he’s one of hundreds of participants in a $60 million fund (PDF). The Romney campaign, by the way, is billing this as Obama’s “personal pension fund.” Every other member of the Illinois state legislature, past and present, might be surprised to hear this.
Obama has zero control over that pension fund. But Romney is personally invested, to the tunes of tens of millions of dollars, in the Bain Capital funds used to buy Sensata. Romney continually hides behind the claim that all of his investments are in a “blind trust,” but when he was running against Ted Kennedy he called blind trusts an “age-old ruse.” And as Mother Jones reported last week, he has a great deal of control over those funds:
Through Romney’s individual and family “blind” trusts—managed by his personal lawyer, R. Bradford Malt—the Romneys traded more than 25,000 shares in Chinese firms, including some based in Hong Kong. Some of these investments have previously been reported in the media and raised by the Obama campaign, but others have gone unnoticed. Overall, the stock investments netted the Romneys a profit of more than $90,000 in 2010 and 2011. (Some of the individual investments were losers.) While that sum is a pittance in light of the candidate’s vast personal wealth, it represents a significant amount for ordinary working Americans. Romney has long invested in China, putting millions into Chinese firms back when he ran Bain Capital, as MoJo‘s DC bureau chief David Corn first exposed in several reports this summer.
Romney has said that he has no role in managing his personal investments; one of his aidestold the Financial Times recently that Malt works “to make the investments in the blind trust conform to Governor Romney’s positions, and whenever it comes to his attention that there is something inconsistent, he ends the investment.”
And as Romney himself said in 1994, “you can always tell the blind trust what it can and cannot do. You give a blind trust rules.”