A former Bain Capital partner acknowledged Sunday that Mitt Romney "legally" remained the head of the private equity firm until 2002, contradicting Romney's claims that he left the company in February 1999.
During an appearance on MSNBC's "Up w/ Chris Hayes," Edward Conard, who worked at the private equity firm during Romney's tenure as CEO, noted that Romney remained "legally" in charge of the company for at least two years after the former governor says he left to take over the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
“Mitt’s names were on the documents as the chief executive and sole owner of the company," Conard said. Conard served as managing director of the firm from 1993 to 2007.
Despite Romney's statements that he left in 1999, Conard's new remarks suggest that, in fact, Romney's continued ownership of the firm enabled him to negotiate a better exit deal. "We had to negotiate with Mitt because he was an owner of the firm," Conard said.
The legal transfer of ownership dragged on for three years after Romney's informal departure to run the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Conard said, because Romney was aggressively negotiating his retirement package and compensation with executives and lawyers at the company.
"He'd created a lot of franchise value, and we were going to pay him for that," Conard said, adding: "We had a very complicated set of negotiations that took us about two years for us to unwind. During that time a management committee ran the firm, and we could hardly get Mitt to come back to negotiate the terms of his departure because he was working so hard on the Olympics."
Conard's comments are the latest in a growing pile of evidence that contradicts Romney's repeated claims that he ended his active role at Bain in 1999. On Sunday, The Huffington Post reported on a corporate document filed in December 2002 that lists Romney as a "managing member" of Bain Capital Investors. Earlier reports show Romney listed as CEO on 2002 Securites and Exchange Commission filings, attending board meetings for Bain-affiliated companies after 1999, and receiving an at least $100,000 salary from Bain in 2001 and 2002.
The discrepancies between these documents and Romney's account of his departure have become the focus of the presidential campaign, as President Obama's team raises questions about the Republican candidate's truthfulness. Beyond the issue of honesty, there are deeper implications for Romney if he was involved in the company after 1999, as Bain's outsourcing activity during that time has raised concern.
Obama addressed the controversy on Saturday, telling DC-based ABC affiliate WJLA that Romney should come clean on his record.
"Ultimately, I think, Mr. Romney is going to have to answer those questions because if he aspires to being president, one of the things you learn is you're ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations," the president said.