ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Cancel

Finders Weepers: Early Bain Disputes Cast New Light on Its Business

Romney’s private equity firm battled with brokers, also asked them to find healthy companies, not just turnarounds.

Mitt Romney, then chief executive, at Bain Capital in November 1993. (David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

It was one of the "quickest big hits in Wall Street history," as the Wall Street Journal put it at the time.

In 1996, an investment group including Bain Capital, the firm then run by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, sold the consumer credit information business Experian to a British retailer, making a $500 million profit. Bain and the other investors who reaped that windfall had closed the acquisition a mere seven weeks earlier, stunning the investing world.

Another party was stunned by the deal, but for a different reason. James McCall Springer believed that he had brought the idea to buy Experian to Bain in the first place.

Springer sued to get what he contended was his rightful finder's fee, eventually settling. And he wasn't the only one. At least three other parties had similar legal disputes with Bain during the early 1990s, when Romney led the company, raising questions of how rough-and-tumble the company could be. The suits also shed light on how Bain actually operated, complicating one of the main narratives Bain, the Romney campaign, and many commentators have used to describe the private equity firm.

The Romney campaign declined to respond to a request for comment on the lawsuits. Bain did not respond to a request for comment. And, of course, disputes about finder's fees are not uncommon; large sums are at stake for little work, a situation ripe for claims of aggrandized roles.

Most accounts of Bain characterize the firm as full of hard-working young men who sought to find troubled companies, invest in them and turn them around. Romney's presidential campaign website says that "under his leadership, Bain Capital helped to launch or rebuild over one hundred companies." Romney campaigns have embraced his reputation as a turnaround artist, as he has run on his private equity record and his overhaul of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. He even titled his 2004 book "Turnaround," a memoir and account of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

But as the disputes illuminate, the reality of Bain's business in the early years is more complicated.

Often, Bain wasn't finding companies on its own. Finders and middlemen were more common in the early days of private equity than they are now. Smaller firms would seek out acquisition targets and bring them to the big buyout firms.

More significantly, Romney's firm wasn't always looking for startups or troubled companies that it could turn around.

Private equity companies conduct a variety of transactions other than buying startups with growth potential or troubled firms ripe for a turnaround. Some seek out family-run operations under the theory that those typically have a lot of fat to cut. Some like "roll-ups," buying up a bunch of small operations in one industry and combining them into a powerhouse with economies of scale. Firms buy divisions of large corporations that are trying to streamline their operations. Some acquisitions fit more than one of these descriptions. The constant is debt, and plenty of it. Private equity firms use such borrowed money to maximize their gains.

The Romney campaign says Bain did various types of deals. And it celebrates that Bain helped launch or rebuild some American corporate stalwarts, like Staples, Bright Horizons and Sports Authority.

Yet in addition, under Romney's tenure, Bain often sought out solid businesses that didn't need to be turned around. The reason: Such companies could operate under the burden of the enormous debt that Bain would layer on them.

"They always told us day one: They wanted profitable companies that are doing OK, and they pay what they needed to pay," says Phillip Roman, who heads up an eponymous mergers and acquisitions firm that was involved in a legal dispute with Bain in the 1990s similar to McCall Springer's. "There are companies that like turnarounds," referring to other private equity firms. "That's another business" from the one Bain was in.

Bain in the 1990s was "doing more [of] the usual leveraged buyout: Buy with a lot of debt, try to increase earnings and sell as soon as possible," says Ludovic Phalippou, an expert on private equity at the University of Oxford in England. The firm was seeking "mature companies with high cash flow," he says, with sufficiently stable earnings "to be able to leverage a lot."

Financial data on many of Bain's acquisitions are not available, since they were private transactions. But there are several examples of companies that Bain took over that were established and seem to have had enough revenue to support leverage. Bain and another firm bought what they would name Masland Holdings, a maker of automobile carpeting and insulation, from Burlington Industries in 1991. Masland had $305 million in sales that year, according to Dun & Bradstreet. The firms took it public in 1993. Duane Reade was a successful family-run business with revenue of $225 million when Bain bought it in 1992, according to the Wall Street Journal, and sold it five years later.

Early on, in 1986, Bain formed Accuride to purchase the wheel-making division of Firestone Tire & Rubber, with some executives from the company. Bain structured the deal to have 40-to-1 leverage, according to the Los Angeles Times, meaning Bain and its co-investors put an enormous amount of debt on Accuride for every dollar they invested. Accuride had sales of $215 million in its fiscal 1986, according to the Wall Street Journal. Accuride was sold within a year and a half, earning Bain more than 20 times its original investment, according to the Times. (Bain revamped production and restructured executive compensation at the company, according to a case study by a Bain partner, cited by the Boston Globe.)

"I didn't want to invest in start-ups where the success of the enterprise depended upon something that was out of our control," Romney was quoted as saying in the Boston Globe in 2007.

The Wall Street Journal found that many of the businesses Bain bought went bust, even when Bain reaped big financial wins. The paper analyzed 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, finding that 22 percent either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested. An additional 8 percent ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. But overall, the hits more than made up for the losses, and Bain recorded 50 percent to 80 percent annual gains in the period, the paper found.

For a private equity firm, choosing the right company to buy is critical, which is where firms such as McCall Springer came in.

In February 1996, Springer, who runs a small investment firm in Los Angeles, woke up to press accounts that Bain and another Boston-based private-equity company, Thomas H. Lee & Co., were in talks to acquire the business that today is known as Experian. Alarmed, he fired off a letter to Adam Kirsch, a managing director of Bain Capital. "As you are aware," Springer wrote on Feb. 9, 1996, his firm "brought each of you the idea and reasons for acquiring TRW ISS/REDI," as Experian was then called.

"We provided you detailed business and strategic plans, company organization and cost structures, management tendencies and requirements, competitive and customer market investigations, emerging market opportunities, new or improved product and service opportunities," Springer wrote in a letter that is an exhibit in a legal fight from that time.

Springer followed up that on Feb. 12, with a second letter to top officials of Bain and Thomas H. Lee. The top addressee: Mitt Romney.

Springer reminded Bain, as well as others involved in the deal, that McCall Springer had written agreements with each party, which he claimed acknowledged that Springer had brought the idea to them a couple of years earlier.

Instead of paying up, Bain brought legal action against McCall Springer. Romney's private equity firm sought a declaratory judgment, a legal strategy to seek a quick resolution of a matter, often in a jurisdiction of your choosing. McCall Springer countersued, alleging it was owed equity and management rights in the deal and seeking punitive damages. In the end, Bain entered into an undisclosed settlement.

During the period that Mitt Romney was actively running Bain during the 1990s, Bain had at least three other legal disputes that were similar to the fight with McCall Springer. In each case, a party claimed it was owed money for having brought Bain an idea for an acquisition. When Bain carried out the acquisition, the firm didn't pay the contractually obligated fee, according to the claims.

Bain fought each in court, arguing that the agreements it had with the parties didn't cover the specific circumstances of the deals.

The Experian deal was a headline grabbing success for Bain, which was formed in 1984. Great Universal Stores, the British retailer, agreed in November 1996 to buy Experian for $1.7 billion. Bain and Thomas H. Lee had agreed to pay just over $1 billion in February, but had only closed the deal in September.

Private equity firms often claim that they develop companies, helping them to grow more quickly and professionally. The added value that the private equity owners contributed to Experian in a mere seven weeks, however, was minimal.

Bain and Thomas H. Lee turned their $100 million investments into $300 million each, a spectacular return in such a short period. (The rest of the profit went to other investors, including Experian management and TRW for its remaining stake.)

Eventually, Bain settled with Springer. Brokers and finders learned to craft their agreements more stringently, they say. "If you don't have a really good agreement, you will be eviscerated in some shape or form," a person familiar with the dispute says.

Phillip Roman had a similar dispute with Bain in the early 1990s.

In September 1994, Phillip Roman & Co. took Bain to court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, filing a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief. Roman claimed Bain had failed to pay it a finder's fee of $4.3 million for Bain's takeover of Weider Health and Fitness, a health food and fitness equipment business.

The M&A firm claimed in its suit that it had signed an agreement with Bain in 1990 and brought Weider to the attention of Bain partner Geoffrey Rehnert in January 1993. Bain eventually bought Weider for $390 million. The problem for Roman was that Bain had thrown it over for another finder firm, according to the complaint.

The firms settled the case in December of the same year.

Asked if he felt angry with Bain about the dispute, he said: "At that moment I did. Everybody feels that way when they think they've been screwed."

But his firm worked with Bain subsequently on deals and received fees without issue. Today, "I have no ill feeling at all, not even close," he says.

Roman added that he had great respect for Bain and its high standards. The companies the firm bought "had to be like nuns," he said.

In a third case, in November 1992, John Ewing, who had a firm called J.G. Ewing & Associates, approached Bain to pitch it an acquisition of the engineering and design firm Professional Service Industries, Inc. The two sides made an agreement with each other.

Shortly after, PSI's parent hired the investment bank PaineWebber to auction off the company.

About a year later, Bain bought PSI, but didn't pay Ewing. Ewing read about the pending deal in the newspaper. His lawyer contacted Bain, arguing that the firm wouldn't have known about the company if Ewing hadn't introduced it to the private equity firm, and pointing out that the parties had an agreement with each other.

Bain partner Rehnert wrote to John Ewing, saying it wouldn't pay the fee. Bain is "not willing to pay a fee to a broker when an investment bank has been engaged to conduct an auction since bringing such a deal to our attention creates no value," the Bain partner wrote to Ewing, according to a letter from Ewing's lawyer to Bain.

Bain sued Ewing in U.S District Court in Massachusetts, seeking declaratory judgment. Ewing countersued for $1.4 million. The case was dismissed voluntarily in February 1995, an outcome that generally indicates the parties settled.

In the final instance, the son of the owner of Anthony Crane, a crane company that Bain took over, claimed that he had brought Bain information that another crane company was willing to sell itself to Bain. He claimed a finder's fee, which Bain disputed. That case too appears to have been settled.

Paul Kiel contributed to this story.

It is always surprising to me that these organizations create no value other than for themselves. To turn a buy around in seven weeks into a sell, is simply financial manipulation. This is not capitalism, it is more like a high-stakes monopoly game in which the larger society only loses, time and again, until we find ourselves hollow and poor.

It is funny, people like Larry Flynt are now offering $1 million for dirt on Mitt Romney/ Bain Capital - partners - off shore

etc.

I gave all that stuff for free to Mr. Steiger - when ProPublica began

way back when.

Too bad the tea party morons will never see or even know about this kind of great reporting.

Not that it would matter; they have their so-called “minds” made up already.

They’re happy to bend over for more of what the Romney folks and their gazillion-dollar backers are doing to their backsides.

What happened to plain old THINKING?

When will ProPublica be releasing its version of Dinesh D’souza’s “2016?”

Said another way, when will the investigative piece come out on the roles of Clinton and the current President for the Community Reinvestment Act that led to the downfall of the US and global economy?

Or the rapid leveraging up of the US economy from 2009-to present to pander to unions and voters, and the lack of economic value created by the President’s decisions, and leaves the US looking more like Greece than a lean and mean Bain Capital turnaround.

If ProPublica wants financial support, let’s be fair and balanced in the reporting.

Walter D. Shutter, Jr.

Sep. 10, 2012, 1:23 p.m.

This article illustrates why Contracts is a required subject for first year law students.
Aside from that, the article appears to be just another gratuitious hit piece.  Nowhere is it even implied that criminal laws were broken. There was a lot of finger pointing.  Charges and counter charges were made.  The parties went to court and settlements were reached.  This is not remarkable or unusual when big money is at stake.

Dina J Padilla

Sep. 10, 2012, 1:33 p.m.

This is corporate cannibalism at its worse. But, it even happens with whistle blowing law firms that steal cases from whistle blowers who blew the whistle on KPMG (bain is one of many companies that is in that structure). The law firm stole the data, took it to & had it under U.S. govt seal & kpmg had to pay a fine of at least 256 million in penalties ( just one of many counts) while the public was unaware of who these companies were stealing(acquisitions. mergers, pension & health benefit theft from taking over companies for their own purposeful agendas like maybe wars & other things that are unaccounted for). The American people had a right to know just WHO stole their money , how & why, but they never did know that kpmg was the accounting firm who helped in all of this & most of the investment monies , the player monies like romney, went to 9 offshore accounts & then to 3 military overseas po addresses & then to the swiss banks.
We figured out their codes to steal & transfer monies all over the world via offshore accounts.
I figure the law firm received 10 to 15% of our award besides hiding the biggest theft of all & that they with certain judges who knew, who to come to, what to pretend to want to do something but were really about shutting down the trail of American’s biggest theft. 10-15% of 256 million dollars is 25.6 mil to 39.8 million owed to us.

The bottom line on Romney’s invovlement in Bain-founding partner-is this: If he is going to run on his efforts and experiences at Bain to shore up the economy, then all records should become public records.  Whether he remembers all the details is not that relevant, it was 20 years ago.

Since when is “Buy Low, Sell High” not the essence of capitalism?
Article full of sinister insinuations, and nothing more. 
Clearly, Mitt must be guilty of *something* bad,
after all, he’s White, Educated & Wealthy,
(unlike our President, who is Black, Educated & Wealthy)
three counts, more than enough to convict.

the pattern described are not isoated but a systematic approach to beating contracting parties - the situation related me by a party was where bain signed an NDA and non-circumvention agreement for a deal brought to them and they passed the information to another buyout firm and participated indirectly as that firm acted a - straw man / beard to close the deal -  for bain solely to avoid the fees   and the contract

- romney’s claim to being ethical and deepely religious is simply a front -the lack of facts for the election today and lack real answers to questions posed as to his intentions is part of the same thread of gaming going on for thirty years with everyone he did business with

Capitalism must produce something from the capital, otherwise it is simply exchanging capital for capital. That’s great for the winner, but it creates no labor or product, the purpose of capital and the foundation of a thriving system. Capital is for investing to create production and consumption. No production and consumption, farewell capitalism. “Buy low / sell high” is predicated on increased real value of a company’s stock. What Bain and others did produced nothing. Had no real value. Was simply a money game. It’s like flipping houses, but less, because at least when you flipped there was something there.

It may not come out - because Matt Taibbi took my emails - but chose not to speak on the phone. Thus, the few we have hope to do the story right - combined with the fact that Mitt Romney’s 850 radio stations reaches 114 million (plus Bain Capital is partners with NBC) -

So the full story may never be told by anyone else but me.

However - Mitt Romney was CEO of Bain Capital in 2001 and in that year Goldman Sachs & Bain Capital did some things - including confessions by their attorneys to Lying Under Oath 34 times and intentional deception of the court.

That is fraud on the court.

If Al Capone is not permitted to “retroactively” retire from his crimes
How can a person by any other name - do such?

We did not permit Frank Nitti to testify his boss wasn’t there then;
so how can Bain Capital be allowed to exonerate the CEO.

In 2001 - Bain Capital & Goldman Sachs law firm
had a partner become United States Attorney

August 2, 2001 -

who then refused to investigate and/ or prosecution
confessions by his former partners & their clients firms

to intentional fraud on the court and 34 acts of perjury.

eToys is Romney & Bain Capital’s demise - in a legitimate world

The question is

do we live in a legitimate world?

Back at the time, I worked at a small electronics company that would buy really stupid, useless things every six months.  Why?  Because hedge funds like this were looking for cash-rich companies to (as the article suggests) burden with debt and kill.  The executives lived in terror of this happening.

Rick, “buy low, sell high” is “Hillbilly Economics,” not capitalism.  It’s the idea that if you buy crap at a flea market, one day it “might be worth something.”  That’s not capitalism, and isn’t even a business plan.  Contrast with Walmart, that relies on low profit per unit and high turnover, compounded.

The “essence of capitalism” is making money by PRODUCING value.

As to the relevance (and this touches on Walter’s comment, as well), I personally think if Mitt is going to run on the strength of his business experience, the strength of his business experience should be on the table for discussion.  I don’t trust Obama at all (never have, and have made that abundantly clear in the past), but looking at Romney’s record doesn’t show him as better:  He’s disloyal, and his business experience involved saddling good companies with debt to make crappy companies look sellable.  How, exactly, will that map to filling the Treasury?  I’m 90% sure we can’t buy and resell Mexico, for example.

Kevin, write it.  Chances are, I’ll read it.  Waiting around for magical people in power to solve every problem is what got us into this mess, no?  Or is this just the return of the Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting Act that Republicans hated so much when it benefitted Democrats…?

James M. Fitzsimmons

Sep. 10, 2012, 2:58 p.m.

Interesting article but I am more interested in who and for what purpose someone in the Obama White House leaked to David E. Sanger the sensitive and highly classified intelligence information about our covert activities to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. Sanger published this information to the detriment of our country for profit in his book “Confront and Conceal”. Or is this form of capitalistic opportunism ok?

To be fair John - Progressives, Democrats - Republicans (and yes - even TB’s) are all Americans.

I’m one of those putz’s that helped GWB get in office (maybe that is why I am suffering so much from him and Romney)

My twist in the road to Progressive is not hate
it is because I realized everyone around me was “hating”
but not dealing with FACTS.

We need a Truth Czar - and it is the American people.
Due to our apathy as a country - willful blindness to harm to others

We deserve what we get.

Including - IF - we permit Romney & his ilk to steal this election.

Then - you can have Bork order women to be sterilized
and Bachmann as Labor Czar making minimum wage $3

and I’ll return to my NRA days with good cause.

Jerry Lee Mayeux

Sep. 10, 2012, 3:01 p.m.

Economic Pyramid Pyramid
______CONSUMER
_____RECREATION
____COMMUNICATION
___TRANSPORTATION
__BUSINESS
_INDUSTRY
AGRICULTURE
|SOIL|MINERALS|FOREST|WATER|
|WIND|SOLAR|GEOTHERMAL|ETC|
Our economy rest on a base of natural resources.
Conservation is the wise-use, management & development of the Earths natural resources, including PEOPLE!!!
There are 2 sides to the Economic Pyramid, NEGATIVE & POSITIVE,
Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan are on the NEGATIVE SIDE!
[CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE]

Steven Koukios

Sep. 10, 2012, 3:07 p.m.

John-I’ll assume you’ve bought stock and been a shareholder in at least a few publicly traded companies.

Did you at least attempt what you decry as “hillbilly economics”?

Or, did you produce “Value”?

Rick is more accurate in describing the true essence of capitalism, whether one likes it or not.

The American Dream is to get rich fast. It doesn’t matter how. Bain’s blood trail only increases the admiration of many. Very few care whether their pactices were/are right or wrong. They made MONEY and it is all that matters, right?

Romney is a dishonest pig. These “finders,” in good faith, brought him ideas for prospective takeover candidates. He signed contracts with them. And after Bain bought the companies the finders had suggested, Romney welched. That’s the essence of Romney’s history.

For further evidence of his repulsive character, see his denial of having cut off forcibly a classmate’s hair in high school, an act that all his other classmates recall vividly. He admits to having done stupid things in school, but Romney conveniently doesn’t remember his hateful, fascist behavior which traumatically scarred a classmate for the rest of his life.

Herbert Abrams

Sep. 10, 2012, 6:04 p.m.

So if you pay off an illegal act it is not illegal?
Or if you are not Mitt enough to stand up for the truth you are hiding the BAIN.

Sorry it just looks like Mitt Robbery, not a crime.

Mar Tino Wells

Sep. 10, 2012, 6:58 p.m.

I wish someone would run with Burlington Industries demise by Morgan Stanley and the Bain connection…  BI has a lot of resonating power in the Carolinas and would definitely help voters understand the “Bain Way” and what Romney represents.

I think the key paragraph in this article is:

The [Wall Street Journal] analyzed 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, finding that 22 percent either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested. An additional 8 percent ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. But overall, the hits more than made up for the losses, and Bain recorded 50 percent to 80 percent annual gains in the period, the paper found.

In short, Bain made money - but a lot of Americans were intentionally hurt by Bain.  That is Ayn Rand’s philosophy of self-interest overriding all moral and ethical considerations in practice, and is neither sustainable nor justifiable.  But it typifies the modern American right; that right which now seeks to treat the American people exactly like a Bain takeover target:  They seek to acquire control of America and dispose of those Americans - the poor, the elderly, the infirm - whom, rather than return a profit to some Republican somewhere, they see only as costs…only as “entitlement spending”.

Would you, as an employee, give your best at work were you employed by a corporation that reflected the kind of thinking that typifies the modern American right?  Really?  When that corporation demonstrates no loyalty to you and seeks every opportunity to mistreat you - to overwork and underpay you while ensuring that you are aware that they intend to discard you if you break or wear out?  More to the point, what would you do if somebody comes along offering “a better deal”?

The philosophy that self-interest overrides all other considerations was once (and more appropriately) called “moral turpitude”; nevertheless, it is now the core ethos of the modern American right…and is very, very bad for the safety and security - the longevity - of the United States of America.

Countries work the same way as corporations…as military units; all human enterprises are a reflection of how their people are treated.  Loyalty and compassion generate positive feedback loops - and disloyalty, unethical behavior, and dishonor generate negative feedback loops.  That is why the modern American right is such a threat to America (and capitalism!!!):  They always “lead” in a direction designed to satiate the greed and lust for power (to list their more positive negative drives) of their controlling few, and America and her people be damned.  Rather than ensure that loyalty to America (and capitalism!!!) is instinctive and a willingness to fight for her typical, the example the Republicans set and the efforts the Republicans make to restrict reward and economic mobility to a select few seem seem designed - seem intended - to destroy the morale and loyalty of all Americans who are not among that tiny wealthy elite that all things Republican are designed to exclusively benefit. 

Perhaps that is not their intent; perhaps their greed and other moral weaknesses just make them myopic - but intent matters not if ever increasing numbers of Americans becoming open to “a better deal” is the end effect.

All of which is a long, hard way to say that voting for Republicans - to include Romney - is a damned fool thing to do.

Mitt Romney sees, arduously, to “retroactively” resign from August 2001 and those many dealings post February 1999. Those deals are Stage Stores, Granite Bank, Liquidity Solutions, The Learning Company, Kay Bee Toys and eToys. They also include a “gang” of individuals going around with him (Jack Bush, Barry Gold and Paul Traub).

Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone cover story details Stage Stores and Kay Bee; but skips eToys in 2001. WHY??????

Hello all, I a Canadian very interested in American politics I am also A Christian.  Following this election campaign has caused me great confusion.  I am very troubled because during the past I and fellow Bible Christians were trained (sometimes by American Evangelists) in regards to cults including the Mormons. I am not here to discuss Mormons nor cults, my issue is not with them as I feel they have every right to believe and worship as they wish. My problem lies with the American right wing peoples, we in Canada call our right wing conservatives, I confess I am one of them and have voted so all my life.  What confounds me is the right wing taught and wrote many books some of which I have purchased on the subject of Mormons.  Now it would seem the right wing would like to get in bed - figurative speaking with the Mormons.  Even if that is merely voting Mitt Romney to the highest office in the land.  So you may not feel that you have to answer to an individual from another land, but do you offer an explanation to your fellow believers, your fellow Christians.  I have news for you the Mormons do not consider Christians have a right to call themselves by that name.  Orson Pratt one of the early apostles of the Mormon Church asserted that it is bold prudence for the non - Mormon churches to call them selves Christian churches since QUOTE:  “They have nothing to do with Christ, neither does Christ have anything to do with them, only to pour out upon them the plagues written…… All who will not repent, as the authority is once more restored to the earth, and come forth out of the apostate churches and be adopted into the Church of Christ (Mormon) and earnestly seek after the blessings and miraculous gifts of the gospel shall be thrust down to hell, saith the Lord God of Hosts.”  This is what Mitt thinks of you “ Bible believing Republicans”  I have heard it said that he Mitt is a liar, well if he is he got that honestly the founder of the Mormon church is also a liar find out for yourself find and listen the utube video titled DNA verses Mormons.  Joseph claimed an angel told him the American Indian is a direct descendent of the Israelites. So who tells you about the DNA tests that prove Joseph is a liar in this video interestingly
None other that Mormons that have seen the light some of which have approached and confronted the heads of the Mormon Church. If this story about Joseph lying is true, then it would follow everything he said is false and their faith is in all error.  So how about it right wingers ….. discuss this and bring some tea and cookies,  have you sold out for “politics,”  “power,” or the “almighty dollar.”

Jerry, who are you to judge other people’s religion? I am a Christian and deal with my own problems like being forgiven for my sins by my Savior. I am a Bible believing Republican who clings to my Bible and carries a gun, just in case you and your country is attacked, I’ll come to your aid just like in both World Wars. I love Canadians and want them to remain under the umbrella of our making.
  As far as the almighty dollar goes, try selling or buying your oil on the world market, you’ll find out that it has to be in U.S. Dollars.
  You will find in times of great foreign disasters that the American taxpayer is always there first with the most help!

Uh…don’t be making promises we can’t keep, Bill S.  On the bright side you do appear to already own a weapon, so assuming you have sufficient ammunition you might be of use.  After all, wars aren’t won by throwing “dollars” at the enemy; they’re won because you can throw more metal on time and on target than the other guy can.

You appear to not be considering the fact that our greatest contribution to both World Wars was our production capacity - our ability to produce both weapons and delivery platforms.  A production capacity which we offshored. 

Just to make a few rich and “break” labor in America…organized, or not.

Steven, a couple of bad assumptions on your part.

No, I don’t own stock, except for the indirect few hundred bucks in a 401(k) that my HR reps guilted me into taking, and which they paid for, and they can spend their money as stupidly as they please.  I reject it precisely because the stock market sucks value from the economy without producing anything.  Clinton was a fool to consider Wall Street the centerpiece of “the economy.”  People have been more foolish for following him.

With the exceptions of buying enough stock to have power over a company (which is a bit out of my budget) or stocks that pay dividends, owning stock confers you no benefit.  With the exception of the IPO (where your money presumably goes to jumpstarting a corporate project), buying stock has no effect on the economy other than enriching your broker.

Consider that, if I came to you suggesting you make your fortune on collecting coins or comic books, you’d think I was an idiot.  And rightly so.  A coin is only worth what the stupidest person you can find is willing to pay for it.  What makes stocks so different, for the overwhelming majority of the market?

Or consider things another way:  If you support people whose careers are about making money without producing any value, what do you think about people who live their lives on welfare?  Is there such a difference between waiting for a taxpayer check and selling something worthless to a faceless market made up of a good number of your countrymen?  Is it somehow less of a burden on society if your income is a literal gamble?

Bill, why should someone’s religious beliefs be completely beyond question?  Like Romney’s business experience, Republican platforms are increasingly about “Christian values.”  If you’re running on that platform, your beliefs should be open to question.

Wouldn’t that be a better idea than learning in a few years that President Romney doesn’t share your values on something you assumed was central to your mutual religion?

Rick Warren, for example—whatever you or I think of him, personally—fairly openly and understandably points out that Mormons aren’t Christians, because they don’t believe in the Trinity as such and deny various other aspects of Christian doctrine.  That’s the same reason that Islam is considered outside of Christianity (and likewise, the traditions of Voodoo are largely based on Catholicism, but I don’t know anybody who claims it’s a Christian religion), so it should bear some scrutiny.

Questioning whether that would, by itself, make him a bad person should be out of bounds.  Why he believes what he believes should also be out of bounds, as long as he doesn’t demand anybody else believe it.  But WHAT he believes and how it relates to what YOU believe?  That’s entirely sensible, just like asking if Obama is Muslim, considering that the Islamic tradition is that your religion is your father’s religion.

But really, I don’t see how any American can support a candidate who isn’t completely open about his background and past.  That should be a much higher priority than which party nominated them.

CLARENCE SWINNEY

Sep. 11, 2012, 9:56 a.m.

Why oh why would any but rich vote to put a R in washington?
Shameful How We are duped!

GOOD OLD DAYS CLINTON 8
BAD OLD DAYS 3 REPUBLICAN 1980-2009
took 600B budget to 3500B
took 1000B debt to 10,000B
took surplus to 1400B Deficit
took Carter 218,000 jobs per month to 99,000
took us into 10 foreign conflicts
took us into recession in all or part of 7 of 20 years
took us into Great Recession
took us into Smashing s&l—housing industry—banking industry-
took us into third lowest taxed in oecd via debt

@ Clarence: Why do people vote republican with so much overwhelming evidence this country and its people are run into the ground every time “republicans” win elections? Because the “republican” party represents “whiteness” - even the poorest, most inbred trailer-park resident argues they are “christian, gun-owning” “republicans” because what they really want known is the color of their skin is white - the color of the “republican” party. The “republican” party has made itself into the filthiest most dishonorable of bedfellows because party they are aware party affilitation is no longer relevant in a country whose citizens are of many nations but one mind - and equals. Republican has morphed to represent race. Most spout one thing or another they “believe” the party represents but refuse to see the obvious - that “republican” has become the “party” that supports and maintains corporate rights and profits and the interests of the wealthy over all other lives in the U.S. but do not have the power to elect themselves and uses brainwashing and rhetoric as a substitute for relevance so citizens can identify with it. But it’s all based on race. The incompetence, lies and selfish arrogance of “republican” candidates is shockingly disturbing - but people with their minds made up don’t really listen or care anyway - enough are willing to substitute race rather than face the truth that we’re all the same - always was and always will be because that is the law of nature. The “republicans” rely on “ignorance and hate so the appeal is a constant accusation of “us” against “them” andf “take back the country” bs or other inflammatory trashy arguments designed to divide by race - whatever lie it takes to get them in the White House and in power to increase their wealth and that of the richest. And further burden the not rich and poor - because the secret is that wealth can only be made on the backs of the poor - and every back looks the same to corporations and the greedy. What is so sad and dangerous with the filthy tactics used by “republicans” is that they stand not for the country but for themselves and those who enrich them - the people of this country be dam’d. I’m sure by now that even those whose intelligence is regularly insultedt for “republican” votes is now completely aware that what was originally fought for or believed in has been hijacked for its proxiimity to “whiteness”. So it’s not surprising that tens of millions are willing to line up to cut off their dam nose to spite their dam face regardless of the glaring financial crimes, fitness to run a country and lack of humanity seen in “republican” politicians. Because people are willingly blind to personal destruction as long as they can continue to identify as a color.

William Smith

Sep. 11, 2012, 5:33 p.m.

Tutt, do I sense some deep seated anger? Wasn’t it the Repubs that free the slaves? Just asking, wasn’t there, don’t know. Wasn’t it the Dems that fought civil rights in Selma, who killed the three in Philadelphia, Miss., who hung the blacks all over the south, who exercised Jim Crow? Who supports the 47% on the government dole, ops, sorry it must be the 53% still getting up at early hours of the morn trying to keep the wolf off the front porch. I know you hate rich people, like Romney, Bill Gates, Rockefellers, Kennedys, George Soros, John Kerry, but you would change places with them in a New York minute. Tuft, you are just frustrate with your self at the opportunities you’ve squandered in your life time. Remember capitalism has fed more people than charity could ever hope too. I came from an impoverish sharecropping white family in the south and our next door neighbor a quarter mile down the road was a sharecropping family also and they were black. It made no difference to us what the color, we were in the same boat. When you let Christ creep out of you life, you’re doomed to failure. Much luck to you in the future.

You’re referencing the old Republicans, William Smith, not the new, “improved” Republicans…

William Smith

Sep. 11, 2012, 7:59 p.m.

Are you referencing the old Dems or the new “improved” Dems? After more than 40 years the poor are still poor no matter how many times you vote Democrat. Johnson created the “war” on poverty and it worst’s than ever. I’m a Democrat, and I don’t recognize this party or any of its values.

Bill S.,  You missed the whole point Try reading it again. I am not criticizing anybody’s religion.  Listen carefully…….  The Christian evangelist and teachers taught us on both sides of the border and likely else where around the world about cults they even told us not to associate with them in any way shape form. As a matter of fact I still have seminar notes from a seminar conducted at a church in Canada by an American Evangelist.  Now back to the point which you failed to address or addressed it with your flippant confusion.  WHY teach us about a certain doctrine weather ours or somebody else’s if you are not intent on taking you own advice especially when it is delivered with great emphasis.  If you have never taken one of these seminars you cannot relate. If you cannot then don’t try to turn it around, or at least hesitate before jumping up and down and not addressing the subject which is again “””WHY is the right supporting a Mormon when they taught us to be against them in all facets of our personal lives?”””

Your words contradict you, William Smith.  You claim to be a Democrat, yet you criticize a 40-year old policy that defines the Democrats:  Prevent Americans - all Americans - from suffering. 

Which, pray tell, is it:  Have you been a Democrat for those forty years and remained a Democrat in spite of your abhorrence of defining Democratic policies?  Did you become a Democrat more recently in spite of your abhorrence of that which makes a Democrat a Democrat?  Or are you in fact one of those who believes that claiming allegiance to those whom you attack gives you more credibility? 

Which it might…with some….I suppose.

“I think the key paragraph in this article is:

The [Wall Street Journal] analyzed 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, finding that 22 percent either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested. An additional 8 percent ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. But overall, the hits more than made up for the losses, and Bain recorded 50 percent to 80 percent annual gains in the period, the paper found.”

It’s important to note that a sizable portion of the 77 businesses weren’t in dire straights and Bain fixed them (just like this article states).  So it’s not very impressive that the majority of the 77 companies didn’t fail.

The list of what companies Bain Capital and Mitt Romney were involved in; is not “all inclusive” of every deal they handled.

According to other articles out there, some real bad case issues are being ignored. Including this brand new article today, by PoliticsUSA, that begs the question -” Was Mitt Romney Running His Own Bankruptcy Ring”?

http://www.politicususa.com/romney-bain-capital-bankruptcy-ring.html

As we’ve been telling everyone, Mitt Romney & Bain Capital have “BIG” problems if the main stream media details why Mitt Romney seeks to “retroactively” retire from 2001.

See the Bankruptcy Ring story.

ROMNEY was engaged in a systematic “BUSTOUT” - check the video on The Sopranos and the restaurant the mob bought and boosted everything that came in the front door out and the back door then torched the building - same deal with Bain Portfolio

when Bain has 30% of the companies file BK or go bust in some form that is very high failure rate - unusual

they would set up the debt - declare the dividend to themsleves and when they were beyond the clawback period - declare Bankruptcy

And yet this style of “Vulture capitalism” which adds no value to the economy is what people think that they want?  Really?  And if I’m not mistaken, some of these “Bain investments” were secured by public money in financing, and why is that not just gambling with public money but its a form of welfare that remains to be acknowledged.

Working Americans whom the GOP is continually trying to throw under the bus may never see exactly what a Bain on this nation the corporate oligarchy has become, which is terribly unfortunate for US all.  It is yet another example of how the Oligarchy is leeching off of US all, and trying to “distract our attention” away from the unethical conduct that they are committing.
No, Romney surely is NOT ready to lead this nation, because he would bankrupt US and act as though he did US a favor.

So firms like Bain purchase companies, leverage them with debt and then sell them off hopefully at a profit after taking enormous fees from the leveraged buy out. Now can someone explain why they are only subject to a very privileged 15% tax rate? They do not add much value if any, they are not creating a new business, they don’t create jobs, they don’t invent new products or services They are just business brokers.

I think you mean “business breakers” - Mr. Hunter.

Brokers take a finders fee for making a mutually satisfactory deal.

Bain Capital takes the lion share until the entity is broke.

Steve, it’s specifically because they don’t produce anything.  Their income is from “capital gains,” which are taxed to a maximum of 15%.  I believe the theory is that tax was paid on purchase, so it shouldn’t be paid on the sale.

Charlie Rangel—who was most newsworthy for his conviction on House Ethics charges and being forced out of the Ways and Means chair for not disclosing rental income—tried to pass “the Mother of All Tax Reform” in 2007, which would have included taxing capital gains income as if it were, y’know, income.  I’m sure the ethics inquiry had nothing to do with that…

Concur, they don’t want to produce anything, except positive cash flow. It matters not if it comes from a company existing for thirty years. Whether or not the company closing will destroy a town. If it is from pension monies, etc.

The only thing that matters to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital are the end results for Mitt Romney and Bain.

How such self serving ego-maniacs can even purport to be public service minded is absurd.

There is actually a term for what Bain and so very much of the rest of the right’s funding sour and power structure do:  “Rent-seeking”.  In lieu of providing the URL, to quote the first line of the Wikipedia entry on rent-seeking:

“In economics, rent-seeking is an attempt to obtain economic rent by manipulating the social <b>or political</i> environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth.”

Deregulation?  A big rent-seeking enabler.

Even Big Oil, which at first glance seems to harvest a natural resource and then refine and distribute it, is guilty of it.  The acceleration in the corruption of the Republicans began when OPEC formed and, rather than allow the United States to pluck the strategic and economic dagger of oil dependency from her back, Big Oil began buying Republicans (at what were then wholesale prices, I’m sure; Tricky Dick’s resignation had to leave a bruise) so that the Republicans would block all efforts at conservation, mass transportation, and alternative energy research.  That is, Big Oil used government to foster their monopoly on ***energy for transportation use.

Which they did and continue to do, proving that the Republicans do have one arena in which they demonstrate some semblance of honor:  Once bought, they stay bought.  (Although, admittedly, rather than honor that instead may be a function of once bought, you can be blackmailed with the fact that you were bought once.)

Likewise Wall Street…tax and other legislation forced the American people into 401Ks where Wall Street could tap their money for “management fees”, with insider trading, and via the many (and increasingly short-cycled) dramatic plunges in the stock market.  (Wall Street’s rent-seeking is particularly nefarious…it is easy for a HNWI to yank their money out of the stock market before or at the start of such a downward dive in the stock market - but what happens should a 401K holder attempt to do that?  A big tax penalty, is what.)

I, by the way, don’t generally use the fancy economic term of “rent-seeking”...I see it more as the ultimate form of privatization, so I call rent-seeking levying private taxes.  That way of thinking is driven in part by my knowledge of the true reason that the right wants to privatize so much of government:  Government has a lot of monopolies on essential services (air traffic control, interstate highways, border customs, food inspection, tax collection, the courts, Social Security, the Centers for Disease Control, the military, Medicare/Medicaid, the United States Postal Service, etc. etc. etc.) and there simply isn’t a better place to levy private taxes than on an essential good or service that a) you monopolize and b) “the people” cannot avoid using (bringing me back to 401Ks).

(***Note:  Anybody prepared to say something about Solyandra should be prepared for me to say something about Konarka Technologies.

lollll…and if you were wondering why the right hasn’t talked about Solyandra much since Romney’s primary win, go ahead and research Konarka Technologies.)

Sheesh.  Apparently I’ll never get good at scrolling back through a comment to proof-read in tiny chunks.  The first line of the Wikipedia “rent-seeking” entry says:

“In economics, rent-seeking is an attempt to obtain economic rent by manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth.”

Now everybody who knows how to use html tags can stop (or start, if that be your pleasure) laughing.

Harvey Bernstein

Sep. 13, 2012, 8:07 p.m.

I am no fan of Romney or Bain, but this is small potatoes - 4 law suits in 10 years!  Relatively small suits at that.  Given the profits Bain was making, it shows a chiseling nature, but no worse.

What I want to know is how they got away with bankrupting 22% of their acquisitions.  Who would lend them money given the high risk and questionable business practices.

If Bain was extracting large amounts of money as dividends and fees from companies that later became insolvent, why were they not subject to bankruptcy fraud or civil claw back?

How did Romney keep his skirts clean?  Was he so good at staying in the gray area that he was untouchable?  Did he rely on political suction?  We know he was wheeling and dealing and creating impenetrable structures to avoid taxes.  Where these structures also useful for protecting his reputation and avoiding the consequences of his actions? 

Does that sense of invulnerability explain why he is such a bad politician?

This article doesn’t suggest any whiff of illegality and barely suggests any unethical behavior.  The only thing it implies is that he and/or his legal representation were very good at dancing on the lines.

@Harvey Bernstein:  You state that “This article doesn’t suggest any whiff of illegality and barely suggests unethical behavior.”

What would you define as unethical behavior, then, if making an acquisition for the sole purpose of loading that acquisition with debt that you intend to pocket “barely suggests” unethical behavior?  Even when your actions contributes to or even forces that acquisition into bankruptcy?

You seem to suggest that the behavior has to meet the criteria of illegal behavior to be “unethical”, and hurting thousands and thousands of Americans and destroying an equal number of jobs as well as all jobs that acquisition might otherwise have created in the future is…what? 

“Just business”?

Bain Capital needs an Indictment

Sep. 13, 2012, 10:21 p.m.

I somewhat concur @HarveyBernstein

This article is a puff piece as to the “real” Mitt Romney/ Bain Capital shady dealings. That, in and of itself, says volumes.

Once the main stream digs more into the secrets (or Larry Flynt is actually successful), especially of those items Romney wants to “retroactively” resign from post February 1999;

that is when we will have something to talk about.

Harvey Bernstein

Sep. 14, 2012, 10:36 a.m.

@ibsteve2u I think u misunderstood me.  My point was that this article exposes some smoke, but not the fire.  Can anyone show the fire or to alter the metaphor: a smoking gun?

I read the linked articles and they report that the companies Bain bought were loaded with debt, labor unions were busted and they took every financial edge for themselves.

But Romney is incredibly slippery.  He was either not there or he didn’t make the decision or he blew the whistle.  Most everyone quoted sees things differently.  But the records were sealed or confidential or shredded.  When Romney left the Governorship of MA he bought all the hard drives so there would be no records.  All the issues brought up in this article was settled, not adjudicated.  Had Propublica managed to obtain the records, this would have been a very interesting article.  But they didn’t.

The only stuff we know for sure were the documents dumped by Gawker. They show that Bain and Romney liked to skirt the law.  They seem to prefer the literal to the spirit of the law.  But they settle when confronted.  When caught in a lie, they create a new lie.  One cannot say with certainly that they did anything wrong - as much as I would like to.

Romney is jello.  No one has figure out how to nail him to the wall.

Oh No U Didn't!

Sep. 14, 2012, 10:55 a.m.

Mr. Harvey Bernstein;

Just because Mr. Steiger and his group failed to denote the facts (that he has had since “before” ProPublica.org began). Does not mean that “Smoking Gun” evidence is lacking.

The problem is - Mitt Romney has “Never” stated he left Bain Capital in February 1999. His media outlets have reported that erroneous contention - over and over again.

Even when it was deemed a concede, Mitt Romney did not do so personally. A spokesperson is the one who said he “retroactively” retired back to February 1999. Though he was “technically” CEO until August 2001.

HOWEVER, I can swear an oath to you and all federal agents, courts and DOJ personnel (and have done so with Senators) - that there ‘is” a Smoking Gun concerning Bain Capital benefiting from “massive” federal Frauds in 2001.

Not only did Mitt Romney resign in August 2001. An EVENT transpired at that time that started a decade long efforts to kill any investigation and/ or prosecution as well as Federal Corruption of the Department of Justice United States Attorney’s office in Delaware and Los Angeles California.

Stay Tuned - the Rolling Stone cover story “Greed and Debt” is just the beginning. To get a better view - look at PoliticusUSA.com ‘s website story. “Was Mitt Romney Running a Bankruptcy Ring”?

The evidence is not only Smoking Gun -esque. It is qualitative and quantitative, including confessions of Bain Capital law firms to the fact they lied under oath 34 times to a Chief federal justice. They also admitted to doing such acts of deception - Deliberately.

Again - Stay Tuned - the Truth is ALL public docket records!

@Harvey Bernstein:  And you misunderstood me.  From your comments, I infer that you believe “not enough” has been revealed about Romney to disqualify him for leadership on moral and ethical grounds.

I, on the other hand, insist that what we already know is sufficient to relegate Romney to a standing alongside Bernie Madoff, and so dismiss his Presidential over-aspirations at the polls with a swift click.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Buying Your Vote

Buying Your Vote: Dark Money and Big Data

ProPublica is following the money and exploring campaign issues in the 2012 election you won't read about elsewhere.

Get Updates

Stay on top of what we’re working on by subscribing to our email digest.

optional

Our Hottest Stories

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •