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A woman in Ohio fills out a provisional ballot during the 2008 election. President Obama and Mitt Romney are trading charges over a lawsuit Democrats filed after the state’s early voting law was changed. (Chris Hondros, Getty Images / November 4, 2008)

Charges that the president aims to undermine service members’ rights are called ‘shameful.’

By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times
August 6, 2012, 6:02 a.m.

CHICAGO — A top advisor to President Obama‘s campaign lashed out at Mitt Romney on Sunday, arguing that the presumptive GOP nominee is misrepresenting a lawsuit Democrats filed in Ohio to equalize voting rights for all Ohioans.

The suit, which Romney has seized upon to argue that Obama is trying to undermine service members’ voting rights, calls for all Ohioans to be able to cast early votes up until the Monday before election day.

“What that lawsuit calls for is not to deprive the military of the right to vote in the final weekend of the campaign. Of course they should have that right. What that suit is about is whether the rest of Ohio should have the same right, and I think it’s shameful that Gov. Romney would hide behind our servicemen and women,” Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Until 2011, all Ohioans could cast early ballots as late as the Monday before election day. Last year, the Legislature instituted a Friday cutoff for all voters except members of the military and their families.

In mid-July, the Obama campaign and state and national Democratic groups filed suit, arguing that a two-tier voting system was unconstitutional and calling for all voters to be allowed to cast ballots until the day before election day. The suit does not call for reducing early voting access for service members.

On Saturday, Romney accused Obama of trying to undermine service members’ voting rights, and he argued that Ohio was within its rights to give service members special privileges.

“President Obama’s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage,” Romney said in a statement Saturday. ” …. If I’m entrusted to be the commander in chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.”

The disagreement between the two camps hinges on the Constitution: Obama argues that all citizens must be afforded equal voting access, while Romney maintains that it is legal for active members of the military and their families to receive extra privileges.

“Making it easier for service men and women and their families to vote early is not only constitutional but commendable,” said Katie Biber, general counsel for the Romney campaign. “It is not a violation of the equal protection clause to give military voters special flexibility in early voting.”

A spokesman for the Obama campaign said Romney was trying to restrict access to the polls and was fabricating the notion that Democrats sought to restrict voting rights.

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By KASIE HUNT and KARIN LAUB  07/30/12 11:18 AM ET AP

JERUSALEM — Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who suggested his comments were racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East. His campaign later said his remarks were mischaracterized.

“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,” the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.

Romney said some economic histories have theorized that “culture makes all the difference.”

“And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things,” Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the “hand of providence.” He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.

Palestinian reaction to Romney was swift and pointed.

“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people,” Erekat added. “He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority.”

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By STEPHEN BRAUN and JACK GILLUM Associated Press

Jul 25, 8:19 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he had no active role in Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded, after he exited in February 1999 to take over Salt Lake City’s Winter Olympics bid. But according to Bain associates and others familiar with Romney’s actions at the time, he stayed in regular contact with his partners over the following months, tending to his partnership interests and negotiating his separation from the company.

Those familiar with Romney’s discussions with his Bain partners said the contacts included several meetings in Boston, the company’s home base, but were limited to matters that did not affect the firm’s investments or other management decisions. Yet Romney continued to oversee his partnership stakes even as he disengaged from the firm, personally signing or approving a series of corporate and legal documents through the spring of 2001, according to financial reports reviewed by The Associated Press.

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Mitt Romney’s firm raised more than a third of its first investment fund from wealthy foreigners — who mostly used companies in Panama, then known for tax advantages and banking secrecy.

Los Angeles Times

By Joseph Tanfani, Melanie Mason and Matea Gold

July 19, 2012, 3:00 a.m.

Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — When Mitt Romney launched Bain Capital in 1984, he struggled at first to raise enough money for the untested venture. Old-money families like the Rothschilds turned down the young Boston consultant.

So he and his partners tapped an eclectic roster of investors, raising more than
a third of their first $37-million investment fund from wealthy foreigners.

Most of the foreign investors’ money came through corporations registered in Panama, then known for tax advantages and unusual banking secrecy.

Previously unreported details, documented in Massachusetts corporate filings and other public records, show that Bain Capital was enmeshed in the largely opaque world of international high finance from its very inception.

The documents don’t indicate any wrongdoing, and experts say that such financial vehicles are common for wealthy foreign investors. But the new details come as President Obama has criticized Romney for profiting from Bain Capital’s own offshore investment entities, which are unavailable to most Americans.

The Romney campaign declined to comment on the specifics of Bain’s early investors. Romney has argued that his offshore investments are entirely proper, and that he has paid all the U.S. taxes that he owes. The offshore funds do provide tax advantages for foreign investors, allowing Bain to attract billions of dollars.

“The world of finance is not as simple as some would have you believe,” Romney said in an interview this week with National Review Online.

The first outside investor in Bain was a leading London financier, Sir Jack Lyons, who made a $2.5-million investment through a Panama shell company set up by a Swiss money manager, further shielding his identity. Years later, Lyons was convicted in an unrelated stock fraud
scandal.

About $9 million came from rich Latin Americans, including powerful Salvadoran families living in Miami during their country’s brutal civil war.

That first investment fund — used to invest in start-up companies and leveraged buyouts — paid out a stunning 173% in average annual returns over a decade, according to a prospectus prepared by an outside bank. It was the start of the private equity powerhouse that ultimately fueled Romney’s political career. He now cites his experience at Bain as a chief qualification for the White House.

Romney faced unusual complications when he launched Bain Capital, a spinoff of Bain & Co., the Boston consulting firm he joined when he graduated from Harvard Business School.

At the time, U.S. officials were publicly accusing some exiles in Miami of funding right-wing death squads in El Salvador. Some family members of the first Bain Capital investors were later linked to groups responsible for killings, though no evidence indicates those relatives invested
in Bain or benefited from it.

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Published on Jul 19, 2012 by    

It starts with you: http://OFA.BO/xJQfHT

First Lady Michelle Obama announces the launch of “It Takes One”. “It Takes One” is a new effort that asks you to inspire one more person to join you every time you take an action to move this country forward. If you’re making phone calls or knocking on doors, take a friend along. If you’re registering to vote, make sure that a family member is registered as well. If you’re attending an event, bring one neighbor along. And if you’re voting early on election day, bring one new voter with you. You could inspire five, or ten, or 100 new people before November.
As the First Lady shares:
“That one new voter you register in your precinct. That one neighbor you help get to the polls on November 6th. That could make all the difference. That one conversation you have. That one volunteer you recruit. That could be the difference between waking up on November 7th and feeling the promise of four more years or asking yourself, ‘could I have done more?’”
“As Barack has said all along, ‘It takes one voice to change a room. And one room to change a community. And one community to change the direction of our nation’. It takes one and it starts with you.”

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Nine SEC filings submitted by four different business entities after February 1999 describe Romney as Bain boss.

Firm’s 2002 filings identify him as CEO, though he said he left in 1999

By Callum Borchers and Christopher Rowland |  Globe Correspondent | Globe Staff July 12, 2012

Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time.

Romney has said he left Bain in 1999 to lead the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, ending his role in the company. But public Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed later by Bain Capital state he remained the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president.”

Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. And Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.

The timing of Romney’s departure from Bain is a key point of contention because he has said his resignation in February 1999 meant he was not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date.

Contradictions concerning the length of Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital add to the uncertainty and questions about his finances. Bain is the primary source of Romney’s wealth, which is estimated to be more than $25o million. But how his wealth has been invested, especially in a variety of Bain partnerships and other investment vehicles, remains difficult to decipher because of a lack of transparency.

The Obama campaign and other Democrats have raised questions about his unwillingness to release tax returns filed before 2010; his offshore assets, which include investment entities based in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands and a recently closed bank account in Switzerland; and a set of “blind trusts” that meet the Massachusetts standards for public officials but not the more rigorous bar set by the federal government.

Romney did not finalize a severance agreement with Bain until 2002, a 10-year deal with undisclosed terms that was retroactive to 1999. It expired in 2009.

Bain Capital and the campaign for the presumptive GOP nominee have suggested the SEC filings that show Romney as the man in charge during those additional three years have little meaning, and are the result of legal technicalities. The campaign declined to comment on the record. It pointed to a footnote in Romney’s most recent financial disclosure form, filed June 1 as a presidential candidate.

“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,’’ according to the footnote. Romney made the same assertion on a financial disclosure form in 2007, during his first run for president.

According to a statement issued by Bain Wednesday, “Mitt Romney retired from Bain Capital in February 1999. He has had no involvement in the management or investment activities of Bain Capital, or with any of its portfolio companies, since that time.”

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Published on Jul  8, 2012 by    
Ben Labolt, National Press Secretary, has some questions concerning Mitt Romney’s offshore bank accounts and tax returns.

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© Ruth Tomlinson/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis (beach); by Justin Sullivan/Getty images (inset).

BURIED TREASURE Grand Cayman, where Bain Capital maintains at least 138 funds. Inset, Mitt Romney tries to spot his La Jolla home from the campaign plane

Vanity Fair

August 2012

For all Mitt Romney’s touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Nicholas Shaxson delves into the murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws, and investigating just how much of Romney’s fortune (with $30 million in Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands alone?) looks pretty strange for a presidential candidate.

A person who worked for Mitt Romney at the consulting firm Bain and Co. in 1977 remembers him with mixed feelings. “Mitt was … a really wonderful boss,” the former employee says. “He was nice, he was fair, he was logical, he said what he wanted … he was really encouraging.” But Bain and Co., the person recalls, pushed employees to find out secret revenue and sales data on its clients’ competitors. Romney, the person says, suggested “falsifying” who they were to get such information, by pretending to be a graduate student working on a proj­ect at Harvard. (The person, in fact, was a Harvard student, at Bain for the summer, but not working on any such proj­ects.) “Mitt said to me something like ‘We won’t ask you to lie. I am not going to tell you to do this, but [it is] a really good way to get the information.’ … I would not have had anything in my analysis if I had not pretended.“It was a strange atmosphere. It did leave a bad taste in your mouth,” the former employee recalls.

This unsettling account suggests the young Romney—at that point only two years out of Harvard Business School—was willing to push into gray areas when it came to business. More than three dec­ades later, as he tried to nail down the Republican nomination for president of the United States, Romney’s gray areas were again an issue when he repeatedly resisted calls to release more details of his net worth, his tax returns, and the large investments and assets held by him and his wife, Ann. Finally the other Republican candidates forced him to do so, but only highly selective disclosures were forthcoming.

Even so, these provided a lavish smorgasbord for Romney’s critics. Particularly jarring were the Romneys’ many offshore accounts. As Newt Gingrich put it during the primary season, “I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account.” But Romney has, as well as other interests in such tax havens as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

To give but one example, there is a Bermuda-based entity called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd., which has been described in securities filings as “a Bermuda corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney.” It could be that Sankaty is an old vehicle with little importance, but Romney appears to have treated it rather carefully. He set it up in 1997, then transferred it to his wife’s newly created blind trust on January 1, 2003, the day before he was inaugurated as Massachusetts’s governor. The director and president of this entity is R. Bradford Malt, the trustee of the blind trust and Romney’s personal lawyer. Romney failed to list this entity on several financial disclosures, even though such a closely held entity would not qualify as an “excepted investment fund” that would not need to be on his disclosure forms. He finally included it on his 2010 tax return. Even after examining that return, we have no idea what is in this company, but it could be valuable, meaning that it is possible Romney’s wealth is even greater than previous estimates. While the Romneys’ spokespeople insist that the couple has paid all the taxes required by law, investments in tax havens such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in “jurisdictions where there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,” as one Miami-based offshore lawyer put it.

That’s not the only money Romney has in tax havens. Because of his retirement deal with Bain Capital, his finances are still deeply entangled with the private-equity firm that he founded and spun off from Bain and Co. in 1984. 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. The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers. Again, the Romney campaign insists he saves no tax by using them, but there is no way to check this.

Bain Capital is the heart of Romney’s fortune: it was the financial engine that created it. The mantra of his campaign is that he was a businessman who created tens of thousands of jobs, and Bain certainly did bring useful operational skills to many companies it bought. But his critics point to several cases where Bain bought companies, loaded them with debt, and paid itself extravagant fees, thereby bankrupting the companies and destroying tens of thousands of jobs.

Come August, Romney, with an estimated net worth as high as $250 million (he won’t reveal the exact amount), will be one of the richest people ever to be nominated for president. Given his reticence to discuss his wealth, it’s only natural to wonder how he got it, how he invests it, and if he pays all his taxes on it.

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POLITICO

By DYLAN BYERS|

6/27/12 3:33 PM EDT

The Washington Post will not retract their June 21 report about Bain Capital‘s investments in firms that specialized in outsourcing American jobs, POLITICO has learned.

“We are very confident in our reporting,” Washington Post spokesperson Kris Coratti told POLITICO following a meeting between the Post’s executive editor Marcus Brauchli and Mitt Romney campaign representatives, who had sought a retraction from the paper.

The Romney campaign would not discuss the meeting. “It was an off-the-record private meeting so I don’t have anything for you on that,” campaign press secretary Andrea Saul told POLITICO.

UPDATE: Here are the Romney campaign’s complaints against The Washington Post story.

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The Boston headquarters of Bain Capital, a firm that usually found a way to make money from companies it controlled even when they ultimately went bankrupt.

New York Times
By and
Published: June 22, 2012

Cambridge Industries, an automotive plastics supplier whose losses had been building for three consecutive years, finally filed for bankruptcy in May 2000 under a mountain of debt that had ballooned to more than $300 million.

Yet Bain Capital, the private equity firm that controlled the Michigan-based company, continued to religiously collect its $950,000-a-year “advisory fee” in quarterly installments, even to the very end, according to court documents.

In all, Bain garnered more than $10 million in fees from Cambridge over five years, including a $2.25 million payment just for buying the company, according to bankruptcy records and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meanwhile, Bain’s investors saw their $16 million investment in Cambridge wiped out.

That Bain was able to reap revenue from Cambridge, even as it foundered, was hardly unusual.

The private equity firm, co-founded and run by Mitt Romney, held a majority stake in more than 40 United States-based companies from its inception in 1984 to early 1999, when Mr. Romney left Bain to lead the Salt Lake City Olympics. Of those companies, at least seven eventually filed for bankruptcy while Bain remained involved, or shortly afterward, according to a review by The New York Times. In some instances, hundreds of employees lost their jobs. In most of those cases, however, records and interviews suggest that Bain and its executives still found a way to make money.

Mr. Romney’s experience at Bain is at the heart of his case for the presidency. He has repeatedly promoted his years working in the “real economy,” arguing that his success turning around troubled companies and helping to start new ones, producing jobs in the process, has prepared him to revive the country’s economy. He has fended off attacks about job losses at companies Bain owned, saying, “Sometimes investments don’t work and you’re not successful.” But an examination of what happened when companies Bain controlled wound up in bankruptcy highlights just how different Bain and other private equity firms are from typical denizens of the real economy, from mom-and-pop stores to bootstrapping entrepreneurial ventures.

Bain structured deals so that it was difficult for the firm and its executives to ever really lose, even if practically everyone else involved with the company that Bain owned did, including its employees, creditors and even, at times, investors in Bain’s funds.
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