The Romney campaign has aggressively pushed back on today's Boston Globe report, which revealed that SEC filings show Mitt Romney listed as Bain Capital's CEO after he left to run the Olympics in Feb. 1999.
Why this matters, at least politically: Many of the job losses due to Bain decisions and investments -- as well as allegations of outsourcing -- took place after 1999.
The Romney campaign has called the Globe article "inaccurate," and a Romney official told First Read, "The fact is that Mitt Romney was not involved in investment decisions or management decisions" after 1999.
Bain Capital issued a statement confirming that.
"Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Olympics and has had absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies since the day of his departure," it said. "Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney's departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in various capacities on SEC filings during this period."
But today's Globe article -- as well as earlier reporting by Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo -- reveals a larger truth about Romney and Bain: It's very hard to extricate the two.
In other words, there isn't a simple line of demarcation to say, "Romney left Bain Capital in 1999, end of story."
Indeed, as the Globe reports -- and as the statement by Bain Capital implies -- Romney didn't "finalize a severance agreement with Bain until 2002." And it also notes that Romney classified his separation from Bain in 1999 as a "leave of absence" and not a final departure.
As Romney adviser Matt McDonald told Politico, "[Romney] was on the SEC filings because he was still technically the owner, but hadn't transferred ownership to other partners." Technically the owner?
What's more, according to the Globe, "state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain 'executive' in 2001 and 2002." (A campaign official says that payment was part of his retirement compensation agreement.) And, in one way or another, he continues to earn money from his time at Bain.
And even after he left, Bain Capital remains his creation and has his clear imprint on the organization. Think of Bill Gates and Microsoft: He may no longer be the CEO of the company, but the culture there obviously shares some of his DNA. And this is relevant, politically, because Romney argues that his previous work at Bain Capital is his chief credential in this presidential contest.
Yes, Romney may very well have given up day-to-day operations of Bain Capital in 1999; as the Romney campaign puts it, he was devoted full-time to the Olympics.
But today's reporting also suggests that Romney's complete -- and official -- departure from Bain isn't as clear cut.