Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting President Barack Obama, renewed its attacks on Mitt Romney's record at private equity firm Bain Capital with the release of a new television ad Tuesday.
The ad, titled "Understands," focuses on Joe Soptic, a former employee at GST Steel in Kansas City, Kan. The steel plant was closed by Bain Capital in 2001.
In the commercial, Soptic recalls how he lost his job and health benefits and was subsequently unable to afford health insurance for his wife, who later died of cancer.
Soptic attributes part of this to the financial burden his family faced after he was out of a job, perhaps causing his wife not to seek treatment sooner.
"I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone," Soptic says in the ad. "And furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned."
The commercial will air in swing states Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Iowa, as part of the super PAC's $20 million project meant to highlight the impact of Romney's business record on middle class Americans. It is also the fifth in a series of ads featuring companies invested in by Bain Capital that either went bankrupt or were subject to severe layoffs.
The Obama campaign has also used the case of GST Steel to attack Romney's record at Bain Capital, although the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out that the plant's closure was more likely related to the steel industry crisis of the 1990s, which drove 31 steel companies into bankruptcy between 1993 and 2001.
Priorities USA Action recently announced a $30 million ad reservation for the fall, boosted by increasing resources. The super PAC raised $6.1 million in June, marking its best fundraising month to date.
At times, the group has been accused of launching personal attacks on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but polls have indicated its advertising is resonating with voters in critical battleground states.
Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, responded to the ad with the following statement:
President Obama’s allies continue to use discredited and dishonest attacks in a contemptible effort to conceal the administration’s deplorable economic record. After 42 months of unemployment above 8 percent, it is clear that the President and his campaign do not have a rationale for reelection. He focused on health care instead of the economy, he hasn’t been able to pass a budget through Congress, he hasn’t been able to cut the deficit like he promised and he’s done little to change the way Washington works. Mitt Romney has a Plan for a Stronger Middle Class that will jumpstart the economy and bring back millions of jobs.
UPDATE: 10:17 p.m. -- News reports have called into question the timeline of Soptic's wife's death as presented in the ad. CNN caught up with Soptic and learned that his wife actually died in 2006 -- years after the GST Steel plant closed.
The commercial implies that Soptic was unable to afford health insurance for his wife after he lost his job at the plant. But it turns out that Soptic's wife had her own employer-sponsored health insurance, and his policy through GST Steel was her secondary coverage. An injury forced Soptic's wife out of her own job, thus leaving her without health insurance.
Still, Soptic blames Romney for the loss of his own job and health insurance. "Mitt Romney is a very rich man," Soptic told CNN. "I mean, it is obvious if you watch him on television he is completely out of touch with the average family, you know, middle-income people. I don’t think he has any concept as to how when you close a big company how [it] affects families, the community -– you know, it affects everyone."
Any backlash to the new Priorities USA Action ad is unlikely to slow the negative, often unfair attacks launched by super PACs affiliated with both parties. A Romney campaign ad criticizing Obama over welfare reform, also released on Tuesday, was also flagged in news reports as both inaccurate and hypocritical.
SEC Filings List Romney As 'Chief Executive Officer'
According to the <em><a href="http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2012/07/12/government_documents_indicate_mitt_romney_continued_at_bain_after_date_when_he_says_he_left/" target="_hplink"><em>Boston Globe</em></a></em>, Securites and Exchange Commission documents filed by Bain Capital after February 1999 list Romney as the private equity firm's "stole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president."
The <em><a href="http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2012/07/12/government_documents_indicate_mitt_romney_continued_at_bain_after_date_when_he_says_he_left/" target="_hplink">Globe</a></em> also found financial disclosure forms filed by Romney that indicate he still owned 100 percent of Bain in 2002, and earned at least $100,000 as an "executive" for the firm in 2001 and 2002.
As <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/mitt-romney-bain-departure_n_1669006.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_hplink">The Huffington Post</a> reported, sworn testimony given by Romney in 2002 undermined his claims that he left Bain in 1999. In that testimony, given as part of a hearing to determine if he had sufficient Massachusetts residency to run for governor, Romney said that he "remained on the board" of the LifeLike Co., which Bain held a stake in at the time. LifeLike's 2000 <a href="http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=20001165127&masterFileId=19961077091" target="_hplink">corporate filing</a>, filed with the state of Colorado, lists Romney as a director.
More SEC Filings
HuffPost's Jason Cherkis and Ryan Grim identified at least <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/mitt-romney-bain-sec_n_1671819.html" target="_hplink">six documents</a> filed by Bain Capital with the SEC from 1999 to 2001 that were signed by Mitt Romney. Most of the documents refer to Romney as the "reporting person."
'Managing Member' In 2002
HuffPost <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/15/mitt-romney-bain-capital_n_1674209.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_hplink">reported</a> on a 2002 corporate document filed with the state of Massachusetts that shows Romney listed as one of two managing members of Bain Capital Investors, an entity of the private equity firm.
Signed Documents After 1999
Romney signed an SEC filing in November 1999 pursuant to Bain's partial acquisition of medical-waste firm Stericycle, <em><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mitt-romney-bain-financial-disclosure" target="_hplink">Mother Jones</a></em> reported. The filing noted that he was the "sole shareholder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President" of the Bain entities involved in the $75 million deal.
2001 & 2002 SEC Filings
<a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2012/07/no_romney_didnt_leave_bain_in_1999.php" target="_hplink">Talking Points Memo</a> uncovered two SEC filings from July 2000 and February 2001. In both, Romney lists his "principal occupation" as "Managing Director of Bain Capital, Inc."
1999 News Reports
As Slate's <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/07/13/did_the_romney_campaign_create_the_swift_yachting_story_.html" target="_hplink">Dave Weigel</a> pointed out, Romney's campaign has cited news reports from 1999 that clearly state that Romney left Bain in 1999. However, those same news reports state that Romney would still be involved with the company. "Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions," read one such report from the <em>Boston Herald</em>
Former Partner Speaks Out
A former Bain Capital partner, Ed Conard, said during an appearance on MSNBC's "<a href="http://upwithchrishayes.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/15/12751962-former-bain-capital-partner-says-romney-was-legally-ceo-of-bain-capital-until-2002" target="_hplink">Up W/Chris Hayes</a>" that Romney was "legally" the CEO and sole owner of Bain Capital until 2002, as an ownership battle dragged on after Romney left to take over the Salt Lake City Olympics. "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 said.
Relationships With Problematic Companies
HuffPost's Sam Stein <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/mitt-romney-bain-capital_n_1677133.html" target="_hplink">reported</a> that SEC filings link Romney to politically problematic companies after his alleged 1999 departure from Bain: <blockquote>A Huffington Post review of SEC files unearthed six separate occasions in which Romney was listed as a member of "the Management Committee" of both Bain Capital Investment Partners and BCIP Trust, "deemed to share voting and dispositive power with respect to" shares held of DDi. In one of those filings, Romney is listed as president and managing director of Bain Capital, Inc. The dates of those filings range from April 14, 2000 to May 10, 2001 -- all after Romney had left for Salt Lake City. In one March 2001 filing, Romney signed the document as the "reporting person."</blockquote>
According at a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/mitt-romney-bain_n_1677259.html" target="_hplink">document</a> filed with the California Secretary of State's office in July 1999, Romney was listed as a "general partner" at Bain Capital Partners. Romney's signature appears on the document. Romney remained on record as a general partner until California was notified of his resignation in June 2003.