(CBS News) Amid ongoing questions about the nature of Mitt Romney's role at Bain Capital between 1999-2002 - the years he helmed the 2002 Olympics - several new reports suggest that his relationship with Bain, though complicated, continues to bear fruit for the Republican presidential candidate.
According to USA Today, which pieced together data about Mitt Romney's campaign bundlers through an analysis of campaign press releases, FEC reports, news items, and reports from the nonpartisan watchdog group the Sunlight Foundation, former and current Bain employees have contributed $4.5 million toward Romney's presidential campaign.
Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney does not make public the names of his bundlers. But USA Today cites 26 Bain employees past and present who have led fundraising efforts on behalf of the former Massachusetts governor, including two current Bain managing directors, Steven Barnes and Stephen Zide. Zide, according to USA Today, is on the board of a company purchased by Bain in 2006 that is in the process of laying off 170 employees and outsourcing jobs to China.
Questions about the extent of Romney's involvement at Bain from 1999-2002 continue to dog him. Romney contends he had no involvement in the company's investments or decision-making process after taking a leave of absence from Bain in 1999, but Democrats have questioned the veracity of that claim given the fact that he remained the company's CEO, president, and sole shareholder until 2002.
In an interview with CBS News last Friday, Romneyever attending a management or board meeting.
A Friday report by the Boston Globe paints the picture of Romney's ultimate departure from Bain as a complicated, drawn-out process during which the outgoing CEO "was not merely an absentee owner."
Write the Globe's Beth Healy and Michael Kranish:
"Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney's former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not merely an absentee owner during this period. He signed dozens of company documents, including filings with regulators on a vast array of Bain's investment entities. And he drove the complex negotiations over his own large severance package, a deal that was critical to the firm's future without him, according to his former associates."
According to this account, Romney and his partners at Bain met in Palm Beach not long after he left to take over the Olympics, and the group tapped five managing directors to oversee the company going forward. Romney, however, remained formally the head of the company in 2002, when his retirement package was determined. And as the Globe reports, he used his considerable leverage as head of the company to negotiate a "generous 10-year retirement package." One unnamed Romney associate from that era also notes that by delaying his retirement, he maintained "his ability to extract a huge economic benefit" from the company.
Romney has insisted throughout the ongoing debate that, though technically the CEO of the company, he "had no involvement with the management of Bain Capital" after February of 1999, as he told CBS News' Jan Crawford last week.
Democrats, as well as a number of Republicans, have urged Romney to release his tax records from the years in question, which they argue would shed light on his finances and possibly illuminate further details about his involvement - or lack thereof - at Bain.
Romney, however, has so far demurred, arguing that releasing additional returns will just give Democrats fodder for distraction from the real issues of the campaign.