January 2, 2012

So Much Material, So Little Time, Part 4: Mitt Romney and Bain Capital’s Entanglements

When you vote for a candidate, you vote for all of his or her positions. You accept the moral responsibility for the working out of their platform in practice.

– Talk radio host and serial Mitt Romney apologist Hugh Hewitt;
December 23, 2011

Iran, Russia, and China

Recently, Mitt Romney has charged that (in the words of the linked report) “US President Barack Obama has ‘failed’ in his efforts to get Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

While Romney’s contention is certainly true, there are more than a few unanswered questions left over from his 2008 presidential campaign, as well as his attempt to become John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate, concerning whether he is in a position to carry out his duties as president to protect and defend the country as its commander-in-chief while upholding its Constitution, or whether his business and other associations and entanglements pose serious and perhaps irreconcilable conflicts of interest.

Let’s start with this video, which though it’s five years old and comes from the left (and doesn’t do a good job of distinguishing betwee Romney personally and Bain), nevertheless documents important and germane facts about Romney and those entanglements:

(NOTE: CNOOC and Sinopec are Chinese oil companies.)

Four-plus years later, it’s reasonable to ask if Bain Capital — an entity which clearly had heavy investments in Russian and Chinese companies doing business with Iran, and, because of those companies’ major projects, the economy of Iran itself — is still invested in these and other companies which might be doing buisness with Iran. They’ve had over four years to get in sync with Romney’s specific demands in the video:

  • So has Bain done what Romney demanded of the State Comptroller of New York, namely “disinvest any companies doing business in Iran”?
  • Has Bain, as Romney demanded of Republicans in general in 2007, put its “house in order”?
  • Or, if it still has Iran-related investments, is Bain demonstrating, as Romney warned against in 2007, “ethical standards that are a punch line for Jay Leno”?

Romney cannot claim that what Bain does is irrelevant. He is still “getting a share of investment profits and not a salary” from the firm each year, and it is surely based on the selection and performance of the firm’s current investments.

Romney’s 2010 Financial Disclosure Statement (large PDF) has this to say about the Romney-Bain relationship:

Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way. The investments reported on pages 5-7 of Schedule A of this Report were made pursuant to an agreement with BainCapital regarding Mr. Romney’s retirement from Bain Capital. That agreement has expired, but the Reporting Entities retain certain investments identified on this Report pursuant to investments made prior to expiration of such agreement. All of such investments are passive in nature. The total asset value and total income amount for these funds are reported as of December 31, 2010, which is the most recent date for which such information is available to the Reporting Entities. The Reporting Entities have requested information about underlying holdings of these investments and value and income amounts for these underlying holdings. However, the fund managers have informed the Reporting Entities that this information is confidential and proprietary, and have declined to provide such information.

“Pages 5-7″ of the disclosure form contain about 35 Bain-related listings which return interest, capital gains, or both, and which appear to have generated a minimum of perhaps $2 million in income but possibly over $10 million (10 of the listings returned income between $100,000 and $1 million).

Given past circumstances and the serious of the situation in Iran, it would seem to be a good idea — not to mention a great point to make on the campaign trail if the answer is indeed “No” — to get a legally sworn letter of representation from Bain asserting that it has no investments in Iran or companies doing business with Iran.

But Romney has from all appearances made no effort to get such a representation. I wonder why?

“I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer to a question about possible investments which benefit perhaps our worst enemy.

3Com and China

In November 2007, as I noted here in February 2008, GOP presidential candidate Duncan Hunter wondered out loud about another Bain Capital investment, and asked Mitt Romney to oppose it on security grounds:

San Diego, CA – – – Presidential candidate and current Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Duncan Hunter, today called on former Governor Mitt Romney to send a “clear statement” to the leadership of the company he founded, Bain Capital, to terminate a proposed business deal with a controversial Chinese corporation seeking to acquire U.S. defense contractor 3COM. Bain Capital is attempting to form a business arrangement with Huawei Corporation, a Chinese corporation founded by an officer of the Peoples Liberation Army of Communist China, which faces allegations of assisting Saddam Hussein in the targeting of U.S. aircraft and in helping the Taliban develop surveillance equipment.

“I am extremely concerned that Governor Romney’s company would tout a highly suspect Chinese corporation as a strategic partner,” stated Hunter. “Forming a business partnership with a corporation known to have direct ties with terrorists and dictators while, at the same time, openly seeking to acquire a major U.S. corporation that performs vital cyber security work for the Department of Defense, can only be characterized as irresponsible.”

A resolution has been introduced in Congress, H.Res. 730, which states; “The preponderance of publicly available evidence clearly suggests that as currently structured, the proposed transaction involving Huawei threatens the national security of the United States and should not be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.” A copy of this resolution is provided.

“….. while the Committee on Foreign Investment has yet to rule on the Huawei transaction, this corporation’s connection to Saddam Hussein, the Taliban and the Army of Communist China should clearly disqualify them from becoming, in the words of your former company, “a strategic partner” in acquiring a U.S. firm such as 3COM, which performs vital cyber-security work for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“This letter is a request that you immediately issue a statement of policy that this transaction should be terminated on the grounds of national security. Please let me know what you intend to do.”

Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I have found no record of Romney’s objection to the proposed deal. Fortunately, the deal was called off in March 2008 when the U.S. government’s determination to stop it became clear.

It seems reasonable to claim that a President Romney would have had no problem with the deal, as he had ample opportunity on the campaign trail to score substantive national security points with the GOP primary electorate but (again from all appearances) never did so. He instead relied on generic huffing and puffing while a deal between his “former” company and a Chinese entity which clearly had the potential to harm our national interest was in process.

* * * *

Both issues brought up here — one still current, one from the past — make it clear that there are genuine unanswered questions about whether Mitt Romney would enter the White House with undivided, uncompromising loyalty to the best interests of the United States. If that seems like a particularly harsh assessment to some readers, so be it. Mitt Romney has had over four years to put these questions to bed, and hasn’t. Why not?

To paraphrase Hugh Hewitt above, if you vote for Mitt Romney when other acceptable alternatives are available, you accept moral responsibility for voting to nominate someone who is potentially compromised on all-important matters of national security.

You can’t defensibly do it, and it’s not arguable.


Prevous Posts:
- Jan. 1 — Part 3: Mitt Romney, in Four Paragraphs
- Dec. 30 — Part 2: Mitt Romney’s Prolife Charade
- Dec. 28 — Part 1: Mitt Romney Praised Obama’s ‘Backbone’ in Effectively Seized General Motors


1 Comment

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    Pingback by So Much Material, So Little Time, Part 4: Mitt Romney and Bain Capital’s Entanglements | PERSUASION IN INK — January 3, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

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