Another bad news cycle for Mitt Romney, even Republicans want him to come clean

When was the last time a presidential candidacy imploded this early in the campaign???

If Wednesday was a bad day for Mitt Romney’s campaign (and it was), and if yesterday was an even worse day for Mitt Romney’s campaign (and it was), today isn’t going to be a whole hell of a lot better.

First we have the revelation, coming from Obama for America National Press Secretary Ben LaBolt that there is now proof that Romney flew back to Massachusetts for Bain Capital board meetings after 1999 when he supposedly didn’t have anything to do with Bain. Here he is last night on The Ed Show:

Mitt Romney is holding himself to a double standard because he claims credit for jobs created by these companies that Bain acquired during his tenure – jobs that were created to date. But he won’t accept responsibility for transactions that he was involved with for companies that shipped jobs overseas and went bankrupt with workers losing their jobs and their pensions and their health care benefits. And so he’s furiously tried to extract himself from these three years – 1999 through 2001. Now, he was CEO, chairman of the board, sole owner and sole shareholder. We’re supposed to believe that he didn’t have any involvement with any of these companies? You know, a new report has emerged tonight in sworn testimony in 2002, Romney said that he left Salt Lake to travel back to Massachusetts to appear at board meetings. And so the suggestion that he’s not involved in any of this – that he’s legally responsible, but not personally responsible simply isn’t credible.

The report Labolt references is HERE.

Romney’s sworn testimony appears to back up the SEC filings and contradict his personal disclosure forms submitted to Massachusetts officials in 2002, in which he said that he retired from Bain on Feb. 11, 1999. {…}

Instead of leaving in 1999, Romney suggested in his testimony that he only left Bain after the Olympics in 2002: “I left on the basis of a leave of absence indicating that I, by virtue of that title, would return at the end of the Olympics to my employment at Bain Capital, but subsequently decided not to do so and entered into a departure agreement with my former partners. I use that in the colloquial sense, not legal sense, but my former partners.”

The opening statement delivered by Romney’s lawyer in the 2002 hearing said Romney “continued to serve on the board of directors of a significant Massachusetts company and to return here for most of its board meetings.”

In other words, he hadn’t planned on leaving Bain but, once his work with the Olympics finished up, he decided to leave the company he founded to run for governor. In the meantime, he continued to be involved with the company, including attending board meetings. As Labolt said, the suggestion that he was not involved in what was happening at Bain simply isn’t credible.

Or, as Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog puts it:

So, on the one hand, Romney said he was in Utah “full time,” was gone from Bain, and no role with Bain operations “in any way.” On the other hand, Romney also said he wasn’t in Utah “full time,” and he remained actively involved in Bain investments after his alleged departure.

A recent Vanity Fair article revealed that, even now, Romney continues to receive payments from Bain Capital.

Though he left the firm in 1999, Romney has continued to receive large payments from it—in early June he revealed more than $2 million in new Bain income.

What this boils down to is this: Romney wants to take credit for jobs that were created after he supposedly left Bain in 1999 but not the ones offshored and outsourced after that date.

Romney is also still under fire for not releasing more than one year’s worth of tax returns, something that’s unprecedented since the days when his own father ran for president. On a conference call with reporters yesterday, Obama’s Deputy Campaign Director Steffanie Cutter had a message for Mitt Romney. If you have nothing to hide, she said, “Prove it by releasing your tax returns.”

Cutter isn’t the only one making that suggestion. A new piece out at Politico has a number of prominent Republicans saying exactly the same thing.

From Rick Tyler, who ran a pro-Gingrich super PAC that went after Romney for much the same thing:

I saw Andrea Saul’s robotic response, which was the same as it’s always been,” Tyler said, referring to Romney’s press secretary. “That doesn’t comport with documents that have his name on it after 1999 that list him as CEO who was making money off of transactions. If he wasn’t making money from Bain, then his tax returns from the period in question would reveal that. {…}

“Only [Romney] can provide that information,” Tyler said. “Or we’ll just have drip, drip, drip to November.”

And this from Mike Huckabee manager Chip Saltsman:

He needs to get way out in front of it, explain it with detail No. 1 to 100,” said former Mike Huckabee manager Chip Saltsman.

“It festers, because in today’s world an attack that doesn’t have a response, no matter how ridiculous it starts to sound, people will start to believe it,” Saltsman said.

Jon Huntsman campaign strategist Ana Navarro:

Ana Navarro…said the controversy could be solved if Romney were to release his tax returns, acknowledging that no one wants to put their financials out there but that it has become necessary.

“I feel like we are watching a rerun of an episode from the Republican primary with the return of the releasing of taxes issue,” she said. “It turned into a big deal during the primary, and pretty much got diffused when he released the one-year of returns. I wish he’d hurry up and release more tax returns so this distraction would go away.”

She added that they’re only apt to show he made a lot of money and followed the laws.

“He should just release the stupid taxes and eliminate the Obama campaign tactic of insinuating he’s got something to hide. The Obama people are going to keep the issue alive and it has the potential of mushrooming into a bigger issue,” she said. “It’s time to just pull off the band-aid.”

It’s odd to hear Republicans giving Romney the same exact advice that the Obama camp is: release your tax returns. PROVE IT.

What’s the Romney campaign’s response to these Republicans? To call them childish names.

I’m not kidding. From an unnamed Romney advisor:

We aren’t reacting to what Republican strategists do. We’ve got a plan to win. We know what it takes and that’s what we’re going to do. All of this hew and cry, you know, from the bedwetters who get to sit on the sidelines, aren’t going to affect what we’re going to do and our plan.

Bedwetters. Nice.

There’s very likely a good reason Mitt Romney doesn’t want to release his tax returns. At best, it’s going to show him to be even more massively wealthy than Americans already believe, and probably paying much less in taxes than he has let on. At worst, it will show that he has been dodging taxes in offshore tax havens, avoiding the patriotic duty of paying taxes in this country.

Neither of these is going to be good for Romney. But, on the other hand, neither is NOT revealing it.

[CC image credit: Gage Skidmore | Flickr]

  • CA Berkeley WV

    He couldn’t say he left completely in 1999 a decade ago because then he wouldn’t have been eligible to run for governor of MA perhaps. But now he wants to be shed of those Bain years, because there should be no possible conflict with his Olympic miracle or taint on his job creator record. Baloney.

  • Chris Andersen

    It’s a bit early to use words like “imploding” with respect to Mitt. I suspect he will weather this fairly well. But it is just another stone on the scale, the cumulative weight of which will, I think, eventually sink him in the Fall.

    “implosions” are relatively rare in politics, and even rarer at the Presidential level. It can happen (think Ed Muskie), but lets not salivate before the meal is even finished being prepped.

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