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Documents: Romney didn't manage Bain funds

July 12, 2012: 2:41 PM ET

New evidence for when Romney really left Bain Capital.

FORTUNE -- Mitt Romney did not manage Bain Capital's investments after leaving to run the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, according to confidential firm documents obtained by Fortune.

The timing of Romney's departure from Bain became a lightning rod earlier today, when The Boston Globe published an article suggesting that Romney remained actively involved with the firm longer than he and his campaign have claimed. The sourcing is largely SEC documents that list Romney as Bain Capital's CEO and sole shareholder through 2002 -- or three years after Romney officially left to run the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.

These claims are very similar to ones made last week by David Corn in Mother Jones, which we disputed at the time.

Now Fortune has obtained new evidence that supports Romney's version of events.

Bain Capital began circulating offering documents for its seventh private equity fund in June 2000. Those documents include several pages specifying fund management. The section begins:

Set forth below is information regarding the background of the senior private equity investment professionals of Bain Capital. Also listed are certain investment professionals responsible for the day-to-day affairs of the Brookside and Sankaty funds, which are affiliated funds of Fund VII.

It then goes on to list 18 managers of the private equity fund. Mitt Romney is not among them. Same goes for an affiliated co-investment fund, whose private placement memorandum is dated September 2000.

Then there is Bain Capital Venture Fund -- the firm's first dedicated venture capital effort -- whose private placement memorandum is dated January 2001. Romney also isn't listed among its "key investment professionals," or as part of its day-to-day operations or investment committee.

All of this could prove problematic for the Obama campaign, which has spent the day crowing over the Globe story (going so far as to hold a media call about it).

"When Mitt Romney ran for governor and now as he's running for president, he consistently claimed he could not be blamed for bankruptcies and layoffs from Bain investments after February 1999 because he departed for the Olympics," said Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter, according to the Globe. "Now, we know that he wasn't telling the truth."

But the contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain -- which, one should note, is different from no longer having legal or financial ties to the firm.

As Fortune wrote earlier, Romney left Bain suddenly -- rather than as part of an organized transition plan -- after being asked to lead an Olympic organizing committee that had spiraled out of control. Moreover, it was unclear in February 1999 if Romney's leave of absence would be permanent, or if he would return (as he had in 1994, after losing a U.S.Senate race to Ted Kennedy). He didn't formally give up his title and firm ownership until 2002, once the Games had been successful and he was interested in other elective office. In the interim, he continued to fulfill legal obligations such as signing certain documents -- but actual investment and managerial decisions were being made by others.

After being informed of the Bain Capital documents, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt emailed over the following statement:

"Mitt Romney either misled the American people or misrepresented himself to the SEC.  Romney has said he had no authority or responsibility for managing Bain since 1999, but that has been proven false. Regardless of whether he was on the management committee for this particular deal, he remained  President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board and he was legally responsible for every investment and decision made by Bain."

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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