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Mitt Romney Enjoys Rare Exemptions in Shielding Investment Details

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Mitt Romney, The Washington Post says, has, “Taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings.” The Post may be referring to Romney’s ties to the reserved and reticent Bain Capital investment firm. The firm, which invests money for the super wealthy, was founded in 1984 by Romney and three others. Bain invests private equity funds from pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, high net-worth individuals, and other sources. Bain investments include AMC Entertainment, Burger King, Clear Channel Communications, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), and several other well known businesses. Clear Channel, we note, owns 850 radio stations hosting Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, among others. Clear Channel is said to own conservative talk radio in the United States.

As a major player at Bain, Romney is in a rare category which exempts him from the rules of transparency applying to most candidates. Bain investment accounts have a legally binding confidentiality agreement which provides considerable nondisclosure of income sources.

In an article in The Washington Post, a Twitter posting attributed to the Obama administration accuses Romney of, “…Taking advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings… By offering a limited description of his assets, Romney has made it difficult to know precisely where his money is invested, whether it is offshore or in controversial companies.”  Obama campaign manager Jim Messina has released a statement saying Romney, “Exploited a loophole in order to shield his assets and investments from public review… Mitt Romney has put his personal financial assets in a black box and hid the key, attempting to play by a different set of rules than any candidate in recent history.”

A great part of Mitt Romney’s financial picture was slow coming forth in the current campaign for the presidency. That picture was made available via government filings, and on the internet. Many of Romney’s assets remain undisclosed owing to the contractual confidentially agreement. Romney’s assets include a family trust valued at $100M, nine overseas holdings, and 12 partnership interests.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • I think this is a non-issue, actually. We all know Romney is stinking rich, so worrying about where he stashes his cash is a bit superfluous.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I have to agree with Doc here. The greater issue is his attempt to show that he’s no different from blue-collar workers.

  • Cannonshop

    #2 How’s THAT an issue, Glenn? Rich politicians ALWAYS try doing that-to varying degrees of success or failure.

    In Mitt’s case, I rather expect it’s a failed attempt, but then, he’s leading the pack by being only mediocre, rather than truly repellent to voters.

    Not enough to beat Obama, but enough to win the nomination, methinks.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    Okay, I’ll take that rebuke and accept it.

  • Igor

    The article is naive: “As a major player at Bain, Romney is in a rare category…”.

    Almost everyone in a successful enterprise participates in the full spectrum of income-hiding options that are available to people with enough clout to control the form of their rewards. That doesn’t apply, of course, to the typical cubicle slave.

    Romney isn’t exceptional, and that is the shame of our current economic system. Thousands and even millions of people are able to hide and excuse trillions of dollars from the authorities and thereby increase their wealth.

  • John Lake

    Most of the sources referenced wrote it up as a “rare” exception. These contractual self-granted avoidance options shouldn’t be permitted to political candidates.

  • Igor

    What you don’t realize is that we have a two-tiered compensation system in the USA, and that it has really become exaggerated in the last 30-40 years. 50 years ago it was rare for a successful executive to share significantly in the capital rewards of their own company, even when they were responsible for the majority of it’s success. Nowadays the capital rewards system extends down quite a ways into the salary structure. 50 years ago it was quite common for an eager executive to radically increase the profit yield of a company and be turned out with little more to show for his success than an upper middleclass salary and a big house with a big mortgage. Some guys were clever enough to manipulate company owners to take some ownership away for their own benefit.

    But in the 70s that began to change with west-coast startup companies, as entrepeneurs had to compensate experienced people, who often took salary cuts to keep operating costs low, with alternative vehicles, i.e., Employee Stock Options (ESOs).

    Andy Grove and Gordon Moore were at the watershed. When they left Fairchild and even Shockley behind they created a new compensation system. Before Intel the only way to become a millionaire was to get a big salary at Fairchild and save it. That’s what Shockley was stuck on (I don’t think he ever DID become a millionaire, despite all his contributions).

    But with the flood of new startups (Apple, Microsoft, etc.) more ingenious compensations were devised, and always with an eye to tax consequences.

    Our society has a heavy bias in favor of capital and against labor. That’s why the tax laws are as they are. That’s why our system is basically counter-productive: we value gambling and manipulation over actual contribution.

  • John Lake

    It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be an intellectual in America. The causes diminish as the culture becomes anesthetized. Gone are the days when one could feel elitist while dwelling on the role of government, or the moral limits of government’s authority.
    There is something honorable about investing and profiting from innovative corporations like Apple and Microsoft. But there is something ignoble about politicians’ investing in pipelines, and battleships, in particle accelerators, and missions to mars.
    The Bush/Cheney boys we know made a fortune in rebuilding nations that our military had strafed. They got rich by feeding our soldiers. There were times when they seemed unable to grasp their own greed, and lack of compassion.
    This political profiteering dates back to Vietnam and earlier. Politicians made their fortunes supplying bandages and bullets.
    Voter should at least have the advantage of knowing about the investments of decision makers.
    I have no insider advantage in my knowledge of Romney’s income, so don’t get me wrong. Far be it for me to accuse. But I feel a need to voice an opinion regarding misuse of power, when it becomes evident to my once-previous intellectual vision