Can all Factcheck’s horses & all the Post’s men put the Bain story together again?

In addition to Mitt’s squirrely story over his non work at Bain capital after 1999, two so-called fact checkers have been snared in the sticky web. Brooks Jackson at Annenberg’s and the Post’s Glenn Kessler may have started out in good faith, but since then both have been engaging a lot less in fact checking and a lot more in what looks like covering their and Romney’s ass for a bad call early on. Robert Parry writing at the Consortium takes them down hard:

But’s Jackson and the Post’s Kessler treat these transgressions with a “boys will be boys” casualness … Kessler wrote that he “concluded that much of the language saying Romney was ‘sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president’ was boilerplate that did not reveal whether he was actually managing Bain at the time.” Yet, whether “boilerplate” or not, the filings were false and/or misleading.

Kessler even adds that “there is no standard definition of a ‘chief executive,’ securities law experts say, and there is no requirement for anyone to have any responsibilities even if they have that title.” Oh, really? Here’s how Investopedia (a reference source that Kessler has cited in the past) defines a “chief executive officer”: “The highest ranking executive in a company whose main responsibilities include developing and implementing high-level strategies, making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, and acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors and the corporate operations. The CEO will often have a position on the board, and in some cases is even the chair.”

To claim repeatedly over a period of more than two years that someone was the CEO – and thus the “controlling” person – if that were not true represents what many securities regulators would call a “material” deception.

The entire article is wonderful, an example of the power of good writing and solid inferences in new media, well worth reading all the way through. The author builds a rock solid case for his verdict: not only is Romney playing an evasive game, the premise his evasions are built on is unsound. Bain began doing and flat out did some of the most politically damaging things before Feb 1999. Romney’s “Not-It-cuz-I-was-gone-then” speil not only isn’t true, it would be meaningless if it were.

The fact is Romney-Bain used huge leverage to buy out companies and take out huge amounts of money for fees and insanely high dividends (The kind of mega-yeild no normal putz stock market investor will ever see), they downsized, outsourced and temped the workforce, then left the company holding the paper. In a number of cases the hollow-out company folded, creditors had to eat it, in others the government had to make good in one way or another. Over and over the laid off or underpaid workers came surging into the same social safety net Romney wants to whack so that his rich buddies can keep even more of their ill-gotten millions.

If Romney’s methods were unleashed on the US, he would borrow trillions, divert large chunks of the money to a tiny sliver of already super rich cronies, stick the rest of us taxpayers with the 100 year long bill, and walk away as the nation’s middle-class staggered under the new debt load — or collapsed and went bankrupt. Come to think of it, no wonder the Wall Street arm of the GOP loves him so much!


  1. DLC says

    whenever I think of Mitt Romney and Bane Capitol I can’t help but think of The Crimson Permanent Assurance, a short film by Terry Gilliam, which appears in the beginning of the movie “The Meaning of Life. ”

    for the clip, and

    for the movie.

    But, Mitt Romney and his Bane Raiders were not the good guys doing comically bad things to worse people. They put whole bunches of people out of work, and then Mitt went on to try to destroy the government safety net we built in case guys like Mitt Romney pulled some shenanigans that put a bunch of people out of work. This reminds me so much of the “Good Christians” who want to hate gays, and who cry and whine that they’re being oppressed when you tell them they cannot do so any longer.

  2. jakc says

    Would Bain really have acted differently if Mitt had been in control from 1999-2002 (which is to say granting him the assumption that he had no control)? Did Bain suddenly veer off the tracks without Mitt at the helm? The problem for Mitt is that these attacks work for some off that small group of persuadable voters and the defense that what Bain was doing was good business does not. Mitt is arguing “I wasn’t there” because he doesn’t want to argue that these are good business practices. But really, regardless of his actual involvement with Bain during this time, it’s hard to imagine that he really opposed the policies.

  3. sawells says

    I’m now imagining Mitt Romney saying “Sure, according to the documents I was President, Head of State and Commander in Chief, being paid $400K a year, but I wasn’t there and I never took any decisions, it was just legal boilerplate…”

  4. unbound says

    Factcheck always had a problem with trying to keep a balance (i.e. make each side look bad), but in an era with increasingly worse candidates, they are starting to implode trying to keep that balance in check. Over time, I’ve seen that if one politician is really bad, then Factcheck will overemphasize small lies of the opposing politician as if they were of the same scope as the first politician.

    Deep down, I think they understand that Romney is a really, really bad candidate, but they refuse to dig deep enough into the facts to find out just how deep the Romney hole goes. After all, the elections need to be close so that many, many hours of cheap news can be produced for the next 4 months…

  5. redmann says

    PolitiFacts has the same problem as Factcheck. I’ve sent them a couple emails telling them that they are treating the left like Caesar’s wife. One slight distortion from the left is on par with egregious lies from the right. They just blew off my comments. I also see it in the local paper – Rameriz and McGory political “cartoons”, Krauthammer, Gerston, Douthat against Pitts and Robinson. Must be balanced, ya know.

  6. d cwilson says

    My new favorite spin is that Romney “retroactively retired” from Bain.

    I wish my alma mater had thought of that, then they could have said they retroactively turned Jerry Sandusky over to the authorities.

    See? Problem solved!

  7. raven says

    Where there is smoke, there is fire.

    I’ve been following the Romney-Bain saga with half an eye. I already didn’t much like him so it was kind of extra.

    But there are now more questions than answers and, in all the rhetoric, details are nonexistent.

    Some specific questions.

    1. How many leveraged buyout-asset stripping deals did Bain do?

    2. What were the fates of the companies? How many died, how many lived, how many got sold for scrap? How many people lost their jobs? How many continued on as going, successful companies?

    3. Some case histories would be useful, concrete examples.

    Some of this may be available with Google searches. If and when I have time, I will make the attempt but this isn’t the sort of thing that is readily available or I would have read it by now.

  8. raven says

    These questions about what Romney was doing at Bain from 1999 to 2002 should have simple answers.

    1. If he was CEO only in name, who was actually running the company?

    2. What was Bain doing between 1999 and 2002? How many deals got done, what were they, what were the results?

    3. How much money did Romney make during those years from Bain Capital?

    These are simple questions. Just about everyone could tell you what they and their employer was doing between 1999 and 2002 and they aren’t running for President.

  9. raven says

    The Wall Street Journal, aiming for a comprehensive assessment, examined 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain’s involvement and shortly afterward.

    Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. […]

    The Journal analysis shows that in total, Bain produced about $2.5 billion in gains for its investors in the 77 deals, on about $1.1 billion invested. Overall, Bain recorded roughly 50% to 80% annual gains in this period, which experts said was among the best track records for buyout firms in that era.[…]

    Mr. Mehran, a researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said the rate at which Bain’s target companies ran into trouble at some stage “seems large.”

    Around 25% of the companies Bain invested in, went into bankruptcy or came close to dying.

    It’s really hard to generalize because there were so many deals, the WSJ looked at 77.

    There is quite a lot on Bain’s activities from Google but it doesn’t help much. It’s all slanted one way or the other depending on whether it is pro or anti-Romney. No surprise.

Leave a Reply