Obama’s aides slam Romney as possible felon

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama’s campaign aides on Thursday declared that Mitt Romney’s financial filings would justify a government investigation for possible crimes.

However, the claim has already been rejected by several media sites, including the Washington Post’s so-called “fact checker,” Glenn Kessler. “It really feels like Groundhog Day again,” he wrote after the campaign’s July 12 claim.

The campaign jumped on a July 12 Boston Globe report that highlighted familiar reports showing that Romney kept legal title to Bain Capital well after his departure in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Either Romney “was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the [Securities and Exchange Commission], which would be a felony… [or] he was lying to the American people, that’s a real character trust issue that the American people need to take seriously,” said Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager.

Romney should release his tax records and ask Bain to release management records, said Obama’s campaign officials.

“Romney is the most secretive candidate to run for president since Richard Nixon,” said Cutter.

He’s hiding his tax records, his role at Bain, his financial donors, his office records created when he was governor in Massachusetts and his management records at the Olympics, she said.

“There is an enormous cloud… because of his penchant for secrecy,” she said.

When asked for evidence that Romney did engage in post-1999 management decisions at Bain, Obama’s legal counsel suggested evidence would be provided. (RELATED: Romney to NAACP: I’m better for black community than Obama)

“I would stay very much tuned on that,” said Bob Bauer, the campaign’s general counsel.

The issue is important because several companies that were partially owned by Bain may have sent work or jobs overseas after 1999.

Outsourcing jobs to foreign countries is very unpopular among swing-voting blue-collar workers, especially because of high unemployment and job-competition from legal and illegal immigrants.

Romney’s team has argued for several months that Romney’s 1999 departure took him away from Bain’s investment decisions, and that it took three years for him legally distance himself from the company.

He was the sole owner of the company until 2002, even while he working full-time at the Olympics.

“The article is not accurate,” said a statement from Andrea Saul, Romney’s spokeswoman.

“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,” said Saul’s statement.

Romney’s aides recognize the unpopularity of outsourcing, and have recently launched an campaign to highlight the large-scale outsourcing of jobs via Obama’s $60 billion green-energy initiative.

To push back against the July 12 claim, Romney’s team quickly highlighted several previous media reports that had rejected the Democrats’ claims about Romney.

The Washington Post fact-checker reported that private sector investigators had concluded that Romney had no involvement in the post-1999 decision by Bain to shut down KB Toys, a chain of toy stores.

The Factcheck.org site recently reported that “after reviewing evidence cited by the Obama campaign, we reaffirm our conclusion that Romney left the helm of Bain Capital when he took a leave of absence in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics – as he has said repeatedly — and never returned to active management.”

A recent article in Fortune magazine declared that the Democrats’ claim about Romney “lying to the SEC is absurd, since the SEC doesn’t require an owner to be the operational decision-maker.”

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