Mitt Romney’s tenure at his old startup Bain Capital has taken center stage in the race for the White House. Mr. Romney said that his business experience is the primary reason he is most qualified to run the country. It’s not his experience as Governor of Massachusetts and not his experience saving the Olympics back in 2002. His success at making money is his presidential calling card.
However, there’s some disagreement as to whether or not the business of Bain is good for the American economy or not. Whether deserved or not, Bain appears to have a reputation for outsourcing jobs for the sake of profit. Mr. Romney says that when he ran the company Bain helped companies create job growth in America. It wasn’t until he left the company that Bain started its more ruthless practice of sending more Americans to the unemployment lines.
Mr. Romney says that he left Bain in 1999 to run the Olympics and had no responsibility for what the company did after that. But documents have been uncovered with the Security and Exchange Commission that appear to indicate that Mr. Romney was running Bain through 2002.
The Romney team explains this away as nothing but standard procedure that comes with running a major business in corporate America. It’s standard for a chief executive to leave management to subordinates while he moves on to bigger and better things. Although a CEO might sign documents, we’re supposed to believe that the signature on legal documents is just a formality and really does not mean that the person who signed the document can attest to their accuracy. But doesn’t that sound a lot like the type of corporate malfeasance that actually led to the housing crisis or to the type of scandals that led to Enron?
Mr. Romney said that in 2002 he retroactively retired from Bain as of 1999. So the documents that he signed to confirm his retirement in 2002 should really apply to 1999. The effective date on the retirement documents in 2002 really means nothing, kind of like the signature. So, if the signature is inaccurate and the effective date is inaccurate is there anything in the document that actually means what it might say?
The idea that Mr. Romney allowed his name to be associated with a company that he had no control over other than signing official documents to government agencies sounds preposterous. This is the man that told his gardener that he couldn’t allow undocumented foreigners helping to work on his lawn because he was going to run for President. Mr. Romney said he had enough initiative to make sure the gardener’s business was above reproach. It’s a sure bet that he didn’t have any documented responsibility to whatever the gardener did. Nevertheless, he didn’t want to suffer the risk of being associated with hiring people who shouldn’t be working in the country. But he never questioned the management practices of the company that he said he left in 1999 even though he continued to sign documents through 2002. We should just take his word and the word of the people who worked for him and not those unbelievable documents that say otherwise. That really doesn’t sound right.
Although it looks pretty obvious that he is trying to downplay his responsibility as the CEO of Bain, the point isn’t that Mr. Romney is downplaying his responsibility. The point is that Mr. Romney’s business experience doesn’t really look like something he can point to as proof that he is the successful businessman with integrity that America needs right now. His business documents don’t mean what they say. He has a history of sayings he wasn’t responsible for a lot of the success that has made him so financially successful. This is the man that claimed during many of the Republican primary debates that his investments were in a blind trust that he had no responsibility for. So where exactly should we be looking to see the business practices that make him most qualified to be President?
Coincidentally, the way Mr. Romney left Bain Capital to run the Olympics is kind of like the way he left the governorship in Massachusetts to make a run for the presidency. In the middle of his term Mr. Romney abandoned the people of Massachusetts to lobby and network with conservative politicians across the country.
If anything, Mr. Romney’s business experience as well as his political experience shows him to be unreliable, untruthful, irresponsible, and erratic. He left Bain to run the Olympics but simply forgot to sign the documents that would prove it. He left Massachusetts to work on his bid for the White House he just didn’t tell the people of Massachusetts. Even Alaska Governor Sarah Palin had the good sense to step up to the mic and resign. Despite her personal shortcomings when she knew it was time for her to leave she left and everything was kept above board and transparent. Not so with Mr. Romney. Things get unnecessarily complex. And if something as simple as leaving a business can get convoluted in legalese just imagine how complex running the United States will get.
If Mr. Romney’s business experience is his ace card then it really doesn’t look very good for him. The three year period of signing documents but not being able to verify the information within doesn’t bode well. America needs somebody who they can count on and not somebody who has a reputation for putting his signature on anything just for the sake of corporate convenience.