Romney's tenure at Bain called into question

Republican Presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at the Electronic Instrumentation and Technology company June 27, 2012 in Sterling, Virginia. A recent poll released today shows Romney leading U.S. President Barack Obama in the critical swing state of Virginia by a margin of 5 percentage points.
Getty Images/Win McNamee
Getty Images/Win McNamee

Updated 2:25 p.m. ET

(CBS News) Adding yet another layer of fog to Mitt Romney's financial history, the Boston Globe on Thursday reported on new evidence that allegedly shows the presumptive GOP presidential nominee remained in control of the private equity firm Bain Capital three years longer than he's claimed. If correct, the findings would complicate Romney's line of defense that he was gone before many of the firm's companies went bankrupt or laid off workers.

Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed by Bain after 1999 - when Romney has said he left the company to lead the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics - state the former Massachusetts governor as the firm's "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president," according to the Globe. And Romney's financial disclosure forms in Massachusetts say he earned $100,000 as a Bain "executive" in 2001 and 2002.

Bain issued a statement Thursday assuring that 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. 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."

Mr. Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter sees it differently and is suggesting that if this revelation turns out to be legit, Romney could be in a heap of criminal trouble.

"Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony. Or, he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments," Cutter said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. "And if that's the case, if he was lying to the American people, then that's a real character and trust issue that the American people need to take very seriously."

Though Romney's campaign told the Globe that the disclosures reveal merely a legal technicality and "do not square with common sense," Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul on Thursday slammed the article as "inaccurate" and "hinging" on testimony from former SEC commissioner Roberta S. Karmel, a "Carter-appointed lifelong Democrat."

"The article is not accurate," Saul said in a statement. "As Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point."

Accurate or not, any new questions relating to Romney's business past and finances do not bode well for the candidate, who's made headlines recently for unreported offshore assets and Bain's history with shipping jobs overseas. But the campaign on Thursday released an ad suggesting many of these controversies have surfaced as a result of President Obama's "dishonest campaign."

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