A news report published Thursday found Mitt Romney had remained the head of Bain Capital three years longer than he had told the Securities Exchange Commission, sparking accusations between campaign staffers for the Republican and President Obama.
The Romney campaign called for Obama to apologize for calling the former Massachusetts governor “a felon.”
On CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean took issue with that characterization.
“They didn’t say Mitt Romney was a felon. They said misrepresenting yourself to the SEC is a felony,” he said. “Now here’s what Mitt Romney did: Mitt Romney signed papers that were filed with the SEC in 2002, three years after he said he left Bain that, said he was the CEO and the chairman, and was 100 percent owner of Bain. That’s what it said in the SEC filing. It seems to me a reasonable person would suspect the chief executive officer was running the company.”
The Boston Globe reported that nine SEC filings, submitted by four different business entities after February 1999, described Romney as the head of Bain Capital.
The story also said that Romney indicated in a state filing that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002, and that he had earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive.”
Romney, according to the story, has maintained that he was not responsible for Bain companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after February 1999, when he claims to have parted ways with the firm.
James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute found fault with the story.
“One half of the charge that was he lied and he was actively involved. Now we know that’s not true. Now we’re down to that he misrepresented himself. If you read the prospectus of these various funds, it says right there in black and white, Mitt Romney is not running these funds, he is not one of the investment managers,” he said. “They couldn’t be any clearer. Nothing was misrepresented. So what’s left? Not really very much.”
Pethokoukis chalked it up as pure politics on behalf of the Obama campaign.
“One more bad jobs report, and they’re going to have him behind the Madoff scandal,” he said, alluding to convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.
“Now they’re trying to paint Mitt Romney as a felon, as a crook, as a liar,” Pethokoukis said. “I think that image is not going to stick.”
Tony Fratto, formerly a spokesman for President George W. Bush, took the opportunity to criticize Obama.
“One thing we can be absolutely certain of is nobody in the Obama campaign has any experience with filing papers with the SEC. Their removal of dealing with the SEC has firmly established they don’t understand these issues,” he said, going on to criticize the reporting of the story. “It takes about two hours of a little bit of reporting to get to the real facts on this and how the SEC really works, on how these documents work, on how you unwind ownership in private equity.”
"The Kudlow Report" airs weeknights at 7 p.m. ET.
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