“A Matter Of Character And Trust”: Did Mitt Romney Break The Law By Failing To Disclose Delphi Investments?
We now know, thanks to Greg Palast’s recent scoop in The Nation, that Mitt Romney reaped a large financial windfall from the auto bailouts. Romney didn’t talk up this shrewd investment while touting his business experience on the campaign trail, for obvious reasons—he is a strong critic of those bailouts.
But while Romney had ample political reasons to conceal his investment, he apparently had no legal justification for doing so. Federal law requires that candidates disclose stock holdings that are affected by government action—and Romney’s million-dollar (at least) investment in a hedge fund that bought up Delphi stocks surely fits that bill.
Now, unions and good-government groups are calling on the feds to investigate Romney’s oversight.
Thursday afternoon in Toledo, Ohio—where the story has received significant play in local media—United Auto Workers president Bob King joined Palast and Service Employees International Union vice president Tom Woodruff to call upon the US Office of Government Ethics to look into Romney’s financial disclosures and their failure to list the Delphi investments. Along with several groups like CREW and Public Citizen, the union leaders also sent a letter to OGE demanding a formal investigation.
“The American people have a right to know about Governor Romney’s potential conflicts of interest, such as the profits his family made from the auto rescue,” said King. “It’s time for Governor Romney to disclose or divest.”
As Palast reported, a trust in Ann Romney’s name listed “more than $1 million” invested with Elliott Management, run by hedge fund guru and GOP mega-donor Paul Singer. (That’s the minimum amount of disclosure required by law, so it could have been much more than $1 million.) Singer subsequently snapped up large amounts of stock in Delphi at pennies on the dollar, and then, along with other hedge funds, demanded that the government assume pension responsibilities and bail the company out—or they would shut it down, thus crushing General Motors as well.
The government acceded, Delphi became lucrative again and then went public, and Elliott Management and its investors—including Romney—reaped enormous rewards.
Under any rational interpretation of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, these are holdings that a presidential candidate would need to disclose, because they can be affected by government action. The Romney campaign doesn’t argue that they are not, but rather that, since Ann Romney’s trust is “blind,” there is no disclosure requirement.
Today’s letter points out, however, that Ann Romney’s trust is blind in name only. Romney himself has said that “the blind trust is an age-old ruse, if you will. Which is to say you can always tell a blind trust what it can and cannot do.” Moreover, this is not a federally recognized blind trust of the sort Romney would be forced to create if he won the White House. If it was, he would have never been able to reap his windfall from Delphi, the letter points out.
Whether or not Romney broke the law will come down to this question of how blind this trust really is, and Romney at least has some plausible deniability there. But no doubt this is a story his campaign doesn’t want to see playing out in Ohio five days before the election.
By: George Zornick, The Nation, November 1, 2012
It can be hard to remember a mere six months ago, but that was when we were talking about the hard work mothers perform in the home and how valuable it is. A recap: Democratic surrogate Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney, who is a stay-at-home mother, has never worked a day in her life. In the blink of an eye, both sides jumped on the moment to declare their undying fealty to mothers and their awe at the hard work women perform in the home. Romney even went so far as to say that Ann’s job was “harder” and “more important” than his own, be it running the state of Massachusetts or the Olympics. (Although he never explained why he didn’t simply trade places with her.)
Someone watching this debate couldn’t be blamed for coming away with the impression that this country has put motherhood on a gold-plated pedestal. But it turns out that pedestal is contingent on certain factors—class being chief among them. A Pennsylvania House bill proposed last week sought to limit the amount of TANF assistance—formally known as welfare support—that low-income women receive based on how many children they give birth to while covered. In other words: the more children a woman on welfare has, the fewer benefits she receives.
The good news is that three sponsors of the bill have since backed away from it, claiming to not have read it closely enough. The bad news is that Pennsylvania was simply following a trend. At my request, Joan Entmacher of the National Women’s Law Center calculated that as of July 2010, seventeen states had “family cap” policies that limit the amount of TANF assistance available to mothers who have children while receiving benefits. When Ann Romney stays at home to raise her five boys, financed by her family’s wealth and income, we revere her as the pinnacle of womanhood and a hardworking American. When a poor mother has five boys, we punish her by denying her the benefits she needs to keep them healthy and happy.
Unfortunately the horror doesn’t stop there. What about a woman who is raped and then bears her rapist’s child while on TANF? Should she have her benefits decreased? Pennsylvania, in its magnanimity, granted that this woman shouldn’t be docked. She just has to give the state a signed statement that she was a victim of rape or incest and that she reported the crime and the identity of her offender to law enforcement. (Never mind that over half of all rapes are never reported given the stigma and ordeal victims are put though.) She also has to sign a statement affirming that she understands that “false reports to law enforcement authorities are punishable by law” and that lets her know the state will report “evidence of false statements or fraud” to the correct department. As summarized by Jake Blumgart: “State Reps to Poor Women: Prove You Were Raped or Lose TANF Assistance.”
Once again, Pennsylvania is sadly not alone. Many states require parents to cooperate with child support enforcement to receive childcare assistance, often to establish paternity and provide accurate information. Last month, the Children, Youth and Families Department of New Mexico decided to pull a Todd Aiken and considered an amendment to this policy that would exempt victims of “forcible rape” from having to file child support claims against the absent parent. And even worse, a bunch of states already use this language. According to Entmacher, at least four states list forcible rape as one potential reason for an exemption: Colorado, Idaho, Maryland and Rhode Island, with varying levels of detail about how a woman should go about proving that her rape is “legitimate.”
In the motherhood hierarchy, then, women who don’t need welfare support rank highest, followed by mothers who can “prove” that their rape is rape rape. Tough luck for low-income women who were date raped, raped when drugged or simply had a wanted child. Our message to them is that they’re not really mothers. They’re just moochers.
By: Bryce Covert, The Nation, October 29, 2012
Thursday morning, Mitt ducked a scheduled performance on The View (more on that later), leaving his wife Ann Romney to represent the candidate’s views on those pesky “women’s issues” like abortion rights and military service.
Her answer on the latter question is turning some heads.
When pressed by Whoopi Goldberg on how Romney would explain why neither he nor any of his five sons served, Ann explained that the six men found “different ways of serving” by going on their Mormon religious missions.
“So, you know, we find different ways of serving,” she said. “And my husband and my five boys did serve missions, [but they] did not serve in the military.”
The substitution, she went on to explain, makes sense because the two share essential, character-building and altruistic values.
“I sent them away boys and they came back men. And what the difference was — and I think this where military service is so extraordinary too — is where you literally do something where you’re helping someone else. You’re going outside of yourself and you’re working and helping others. And that changes you,” she said.
The exchange began when Goldberg mistakenly asserted that Mitt Romney hadn’t served in Vietnam because it was against his religion. Goldberg’s statement was, to be fair, a clear misinterpretation of Mormonism (which is not at all a CST version of Quakerism), and Anne Romney quickly corrected her.
“That’s not correct,” she said pointedly. “He was serving his mission, and my five sons have also served missions.”
To set the record straight, Mormon missions are voluntary, non-violent trips focused on proselytizing about the Church of Latter Day Saints. Men begin their mission — which lasts for two years — at 18 or 19 years old. This month, the Church decided to allow women to begin their mission — which lasts for 6 to 18 months — as early as 19, down from the previous age of 21. The missionary practice is credited as one of the main reasons that the LDS Church is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States and in Central and South America. If Mormonism shares anything with U.S. military, then, it may be that both facilitate the exportation of Western cultural values across the globe.
Some veterans, however, are not so happy to hear the prospective First Lady equate a voluntary religious mission aimed at growing your religion with the sacrifice of serving in the U.S. military in the name of protecting American national security.
“Between my husband and I, we have a collective 10 years in the army. My husband was in Iraq in 2004, and I went to the Pentagon after 9-11. I am deeply offended by Ann’s comments. How can she believe her son’s missions could even begin to compare to our service? Not to mention those we served with who came home in body bags …” wrote a commenter on a discussion forum for those who have left the Mormon Church.
Meanwhile, as Ann was on The View, Mitt Romney made a surprise appearance at the meeting of a Colorado Political Action Committee — also known as a campaign funding PAC.
The group, the American Conservative Union, boasts of being one of the oldest conservative organizations in the country. It champions a mission statement that asserts “collectivism and capitalism are incompatible” … “our inherent rights are endowed by the Creator … [which] can remain secure only if government is so limited that it cannot infringe upon those rights” … and “the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties.” (Either the statement of principles hasn’t been updated, or next week’s foreign policy debate is going to be considerably more exciting than anticipated.)
Romney’s appearance on The View had been widely anticipated since he admitted at a private fundraiser that he was nervous about sitting down with the “non-conservative” and “sharp-tongued” women. This comment, along with the now infamous 47 percent comment, was recorded in a secret video leaked by Mother Jones.
Too bad Romney ended up having “scheduling problems” Thursday morning.
By: Laura Gottesdiener, Alternet, October 20, 2012
Our topic for today is: When Bad Things Happen to Mitt Romney.
Really, it’s been the worst run of disasters this side of the Mayan calendar. The Republicans’ woes started last Friday, when Ann and Mitt filmed a TV interview in which they entertained the kind of personal questions that most candidates learned to avoid after Bill Clinton did that boxers-versus-briefs thing. Asked what he wears to bed, Mitt said: “I think the best answer is: as little as possible.”
Then, over the weekend, Romney aides began spilling their guts about how other staffers had screwed up the Republicans’ bounce-free convention. In an attempt to change the conversation, the campaign announced that it had just realized the nation wants Romney to say what he’d actually do as president. Voters “are eager to hear more details about policies to turn our economy around,” said an adviser, Ed Gillespie.
In search of just such specificity, the scoop-hungry Christian Broadcasting Network asked Paul Ryan if he would continue refusing to identify exactly what tax loopholes the Romney administration would close in order to turn our economy around.
“Yes,” said Ryan, who then veered into a disquisition about something that once happened to Tip O’Neill.
You may be wondering whatever became of Ryan, who was such a big sensation when Romney first picked him as a running mate. Since Tampa, he seems to have fallen off the face of the earth, resurfacing every now and then to put up another ad for re-election to his House seat in Wisconsin.
It’s not all that unusual for a vice-presidential candidate to go low-profile. And it is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors!
Next, Mother Jones published that video of the fund-raiser in Boca Raton in which Romney said that 47 percent of the country is composed of moochers who want to confiscate the earnings of hard-working stockbrokers and spend it on caviar and dialysis treatments.
“So my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney decreed, undoubtedly more in sorrow than in anger.
Then, Republican Senate candidates in tight races began distancing themselves from the top of the ticket.
Ann Romney suggested Mitt was “taken out of context,” in what was undoubtedly meant as a helpful comment.
“All of us make mistakes,” said President Obama, in what probably wasn’t.
“Obviously inarticulate,” decreed Paul Ryan, popping up from a gopher hole somewhere in Nevada.
The fund-raiser, a $50,000-a-pop sit-down dinner, was hosted by Marc Leder, a financier who The New York Post reported as having a “wild party” last summer in the Hamptons “where guests cavorted nude in the pool” while “scantily dressed Russians danced on platforms.” You cannot blame Romney for that. If presidential candidates had to avoid all multimillionaires who held parties with naked guests and Russians on platforms, there would be no money for misleading TV commercials.
The video was a reminder of how ghastly this business of running for president can be. The guests seemed more interested in the breadbasket than the candidate. Romney was blathering away in the manner of somebody trying to stay awake during the 12th hour of a cross-country drive.
On Tuesday, moving to tamp down criticism that he was a conversational disaster area, Romney told Fox’s Neil Cavuto: “Well, we were, of course, talking about a campaign and how he’s going to get close to half the votes. I’m going to get half the vote, approximately. I hope — I want to get 50.1 percent or more.”
With that out of the way, Romney explained that his real point had not been to criticize people who don’t pay income taxes, but merely to point out that he wanted them to make more money. “I think people would like to be paying taxes,” added the quarter-billionaire whose own eagerness to be part of the solution is a matter of public record.
How did he let things slip out of control? Maybe the answer lies back with that Ann-and-Mitt interview, which was on “Live With Kelly and Michael.” Asked about his preferences when it came to heroines of low-end reality TV shows, the future presidential candidate enthusiastically announced: “I’m kind of a Snooki fan. Look how tiny she’s gotten. She’s lost weight and she’s energetic. I mean, just her sparkplug personality is kind of fun.”
It could be worse. He could have announced that he enjoys spending his free hours watching “Hoarders” marathons. But, still, it’s weird that Mitt Romney appears to think a lot about Snooki. Is it possible that while he’s being dragged around from one fund-raiser to the next, he spends his spare time watching “Jersey Shore” reruns in the limo?
That would explain so much.
By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, September 19, 2012
At an event for Mitt Romney last night, Ohio Governor John Kasich did his best to pay tribute to women by talking about the difficulties of being a political spouse.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “You know, they’re at home, doing the laundry and doing so many things while we’re up here on stage.… [it’s hard] to put up with the travel schedule and have to be at home taking care of the kids.”
To tell the truth, I’m not outraged over Governor Kasich’s remarks. He was just complimenting women the only way he likely knows how—by acknowledging their domestic acumen. Given the outrageous remarks about women lately—from “legitimate rape” to slutty birth control users—suggesting that all political wives do is the laundry is the least offensive comment from a Republican in months.
Besides, to conservatives, recognizing women for their roles as wives and mothers—rather than as individuals unto themselves—is a fabulous compliment. It’s a pat on the head for all those ironed shirts. But this focus on women’s caretaking is more than just misguided attempt to woo female voters, it’s a disturbing window into the very limited way that Republicans view women.
After Ann Romney’s epic RNC “I love women” moment, MSNBC host and Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Perry noted how her speech focused on women “in their relational roles—women are mothers, women are widows, women are wives.”
“Actually women are lots of other things,” Harris-Perry said. But not in the Republican imagination, where women are happiest at home and most fulfilled by their husband’s accomplishments—not their own. Where being a leading lady means loving your supporting role.
It’s as if Republicans view wives as unpaid interns—expected to do grunt work just for the experience and joy of being part of someone else’s success. (At least the interns get something on their resume out of it.)
This isn’t to say that the care and domestic work that women do isn’t important—it is. In addition to the important task of raising children, domestic labor is what allows these politicians to do their public work. As Jill Filipovic has written, “Men who have stay-at-home wives literally have nothing other than work to worry about.”
They have someone who is raising their kids, cooking them dinner, cleaning the house, maintaining the social calendar, taking the kids to doctor’s appointments and after-school activities, getting the dry-cleaning, doing the laundry, buying groceries and on and on (or, in the case of 1% wives, someone who coordinates a staff to do many of those things). That model enables men to work longer hours and be more productive.
But if you’re going to value domestic work, really value it—don’t just give it a wink and a pinch on the butt. And that’s the problem with this constant veneration of women as wives and mothers—it’s all talk. It’s easy for male politicians to acknowledge their wives’s hard work when the expectation is that this is simply what women exist for—and even easier to vote for policies that assume the same. Because if we’re just wives and mothers—not individual people with their own desires—what do we need with pesky things like the right to bodily autonomy or equal pay? After all, we have laundry to do.
By: Jessica Valenti, The Nation, September 13, 2012