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October 16th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Media, Blogging, Internet; News, Politics & History

Stunning Video on Sensata, Company Currently Suffering the Bain Treatment

I’ve been hearing about Sensata, one of the many manufacturing companies that Bain has wrecked, and that they’re closing their Freeport, Illinois plant and moving the jobs China. This video, made by the union of the United Steel Workers, tells the whole story from the workers’ POV in about six minutes. For a briefing on Sensata, here’s coverage from editorial writer Chuck Sweeny in the Rockford Register Star (IL). Unlike many of the wreckages created by Bain that have been covered during the presidential campaign, Sensata is unique in that the workers there have not all lost their jobs yet. Unbelievably, they have found themselves training some of their Chinese replacements. The end is supposed to come later this year, not until after the election. Watch the video, and bring a tissue.

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August 9th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics & History

What Mitt Thinks is Funny

Courtesy of TPM, from an interview by Josh Tyrangiel with Romney in Bloomberg Businessweek, he’s asked about the emblematic photo of him with his Bain colleagues:

“When you look at it now, does that photo of you and your Bain colleagues posing with money in your pinstripe suits make you laugh or make you cringe?”
“Oh, that was a moment of humor as we had just done what we thought was impossible. We had raised $37 million from other people and institutions who entrusted us with their funds, and we thought it was a miracle that our group had been able to be so successful in fundraising. And ultimately we were able to yield for them a very attractive return by such investments as Staples (SPLS), which was in our very first fund.”

Hilarious, right?

Also worth noting from the full interview, is this softball question, which elicits only an utterly unresponsive response:

“On the subject of leadership, why does Mormonism produce such a disproportionate number of political and business leaders?”
“I don’t know that I have an answer for you on that. I believe that people of faith by and large have a great interest in the institution of family and that a family is a great place to learn leadership skills. I’m sure I benefited by having a Mom and Dad, both of whom were actively involved in the community and in various enterprises. And by watching them interact with other people, I learned the kinds of lessons which serve me well. I presume that’s true for people of faith, if their faith, like mine, draws you to your family.”

Clearly, Mitt doesn’t want to say anything substantive about being Mormon or his Mormonism. Reading Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, which I am currently making my way through, I can see why. Like many religions, this is a movement with a blood-soaked history, and a bizarre theology–including so-called posthumous baptisms– that adherents to the faith nowadays would just as soon not discuss in public.

Finally, Mitt also slips the knot when Tyrangiel asks him about his tax returns:

“Let’s frame the issue around your tax returns in a slightly different way. If you’re an investor and you’re looking at a company, and that company says that its great strength is wise management and fiscal know-how, wouldn’t you want to see the previous, say, five years’ worth of its financials?”
“I’m not a business. We have a process in this country, which was established by law, which provides for the transparency which candidates are required to meet. I have met with that requirement with full financial disclosure of all my investments, but in addition have provided and will provide a full two years of tax returns. This happens to be exactly the same as with John McCain when he ran for office four years ago. And the Obama team had no difficulty with that circumstance. The difference between then and now is that President Obama has a failed economic record and is trying to find any issue he can to deflect from the failure of his record. Thanks, guys. Goodbye.”

The thing here that caught my eye is the ”I’m not a business” statement. As Aaron Blake put it this afternoon in The Fix,”The man who once said ‘corporations are people’ apparently doesn’t believe the inverse.” Truth, or what Romney says, is all about what’s convenient at the moment, not what he really believes. This photo of Mitt lost in a cornfield accompanied Blake’s Washington Post story. Now that’s funny!

Mitt Romney talks with Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, right, and farm owner Lemar Koethe in a cornfield in Des Moines. Charles Dharapak / AP

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July 20th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics & History

Mitt’s Lucrative Severance from Bain Capital

Although this Boston Globe story on Mitt’s departure and severance negotations from Bain Capital was likely overshadowed today by the tragic shootings in Colorado, there are important revelations in it and it should be widely read. The reporting establishes that even while Romney wangled the most lucrative possible deal he could get for himself from the managers remaining at the company, he continued to be involved in many Bain duties. The last three paragraphs of the article make this clear:

“While Romney continued negotiating the terms of the severance deal, he referred to himself as CEO. In July 1999, five months after he had left for Utah, he provided a quote for a press release issued by Rehnert and Wolpow, who had left Bain to start their own firm, Audax. He was referred to as “Bain Capital CEO W. Mitt Romney, currently on a part-time leave of absence.”
In that release, Romney said of the departing partners, ‘While we will miss them, we wish them well and look forward to working with them as they build their firm.’
Those did not sound like the words of someone who had severed his ties to Bain Capital. To the contrary, it implied that Romney was still a part of Bain and its future. Two and a half years after leaving to run the Olympics, Romney finally signed his severance agreement in August 2001. Still, Romney’s name continued to appear as CEO and owner on dozens of Bain fund documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission until January 2002. No one would succeed Romney as CEO of Bain Capital. To this day, Bain is run by a management committee.”

Another aspect of this story that has gotten less attention than it should is the fact that while the Romney camp claims to have released one year’s full tax returns, for 2010, and that they supposedly plan to release the 2011 return at some point–a paltry response to the growing demand that he release his returns for a substantial number of years–there is a key element missing from even the 2010 paperwork. This was reported by Zach Carter and Ryan Grim in a Huffington Post story earlier this week, and then analyzed insightfully by Josh Marshall at TPM. The missing item is a report on the value of Mitt’s Swiss bank account. It is very likely that he did file it with the IRS–to have included the Swiss bank account on his tax return and then fail to submit the foreign holdings form, known as an FBAR, would have likely led to a hefty IRS fine. However, the release of tax documents the campaign made reluctantly during the Republican primary did not include the FBAR, and Josh Marshall wonders why so few news organizations have been asking the campaign about this missing element.

Josh also speculates on the possibility that Romney may have in 2009 taken advantage of a tax amnesty program whereby UBS account holders were offered the chance to pay their back income taxes and all penalties owed, without criminal sanction. This could explain their reluctance to share the FBAR, but until the media begin asking about this more aggressively, we aren’t going to learn more even about 2010, the year that Mitt had supposedly with the press and the public.

 

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January 18th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Media, Blogging, Internet; News, Politics & History

The Anvil Drops On Mitt

According to Greg Sargent’s Plum Line, ABC  News’s Brian Ross has the goods on Mitt Romney’s offshore holdings–it has seemed for weeks to many observers including me in posts here and here–that his willingness to get pounded over the refusal to release his tax returns might be explained by the presence of parts of his personal fortune nested in foreign entities, money beyond the reach of taxation, which prevents the American treasury from getting a fair share of money earned here. Turns out, we were all right all along. From ABC, via Sargent:

“Romney has used a variety of techniques to help minimize the taxes on his estimated $250 million fortune. In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans. Official documents reviewed by ABC News show that Bain Capital, the private equity partnership Romney once ran, has set up some 138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans.”

Sargent concludes in this analysis he must have done on the hop, as Ross’s story was breaking for the 6:30 news:

“Take special note of the quote that one expert gave to ABC: “His personal finances are a poster child of what’s wrong with the American tax system.” As I noted earlier, this is very dicey for Romney. Dems want to paint Romney as the walking embodiment of everything that’s unfair about our tax system and of all the ways the system is rigged on behalf of the rich and against the middle class. This won’t hurt that case. One wonders if these revelations — combined with the layoffs at Bain; Romney’s tax rate; the fact that his tax plan would give the very wealthy enormous tax cuts while raising taxes marginally on lower income people; and his penchant for saying things that perfectly feed the “one percent” storyline — will generate any concerns among Romney’s top backers about his electability.”
With Gingrich supposedly surging as we get near the SC primary Saturday, and another debate tomorrow night, if Newt comes on strong and finishes close, or wins–and if Rick Santorum is finally certified the actual winner of the Iowa caucuses, a call that still has yet to be made official, swiping Mitt’s claim to be “the first blah-blah in history to win both blah-blahs in Iowa and New Hampshire–Romney may yet end up in a real battle for the nomination. His electability will ultimately come into question, if Newt keeps pounding him on it, and if more shoes keep dropping.
If so, much of the country will be riveted, with moderate voters and many independents appalled at Romney’s opportunism in feathering his own economic nest all these years, to the dereliction of the country. That’s not patriotic, will be one message from the Obama campaign as the campaign stretches on.  So if the Republican also-rans s drag it out for another 2-4 weeks at least, and the drip-drip of information continues landing on Mitt’s squared-off brow, he will be more and more of a hobbled general election candidate. If he does still prevail, he’s going to be damaged goods by the time just the primary is over, leave alone what the Obama campaign will do once the primary’s settled. If he doesn’t prevail and it’s Newt, that will be a disaster for the right-wing too, as the Republican id roams the land unleashed for nine months.

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January 6th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Media, Blogging, Internet; News, Politics & History

Is the FBI probing Bain Capital?

A letter the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request suggests that an investigation of Bain Capital–the company that Mitt Romney worked at for many years, and from which the New York Times has reported continues to receive significant compensation–is ongoing or possibly commencing within the Bureau. The letter, viewable on Scribd.com, has had the name of the person requesting information redacted, as well as the date it was written. The top of the letter reads “Subject: Bain Capital” The relevant paragraph in the letter, signed by the FBI’s David Hardy, Records/Information Dissemination Section Chief, reads in part,

“I have determined that the records responsive to your request are law enforcement records; that there is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records; and that the release of the information contained in these responsive records could reasonably be expected to interfere with the enforcement proceedings.”

I am not an expert on FOIA requests, nor FBI procedure, so it’s possible that this is an innocuous correspondence, but it does seem to merit attention from inquiring reporters. Thanks to my longtime author Kenneth D. Ackerman who tipped me to the website Historiographic Anarchy‘s coverage of the FBI letter.