Three people protesting the closure of an Illinois plant run by a Bain Capital-owned company were arrested on Monday after an encounter with a truck driver hauling equipment out of the plant.
The protesters had been trying to prevent the removal of machinery from a Freeport, Ill. plant for Sensata Technologies, which manufactures electronic sensors for cars and employs nearly 200 people. The firm has been in the national spotlight because it is owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm that GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney helped found, and it is outsourcing the Illinois jobs to China during a presidential campaign that's often been focused on offshoring.
Among those arrested Monday were the 16-year-old daughter of a Sensata worker who will be losing her job imminently, according to Tom Gaulrapp, a Sensata employee who was present. (HuffPost will not print the protester's name because she is a minor.) The two other protesters arrested, identified as Jerry Ontjes and Debi Kemple, are adult Freeport residents, according to Gaulrapp and Zoe Bridges-Curry, spokeswoman for 99 Uniting, a coalition of advocacy groups working with the soon-to-be-laid-off workers.
Cpl. Mark Otto, a spokesman for the Freeport Police Department, confirmed that three protesters were detained at the factory but would not release their names because they received only civil charges for failing to obey a police order. Otto said there was some kind of altercation between the protesters and the truck driver, while Gaulrapp accused the driver of bumping protesters with the truck as they blocked his path.
Otto said police found a large group of protesters in the street blocking traffic when they arrived. Most of them followed police orders to disperse, but three of them refused to get out of the truck's way.
"It’s a little fuzzy right now," Otto said. "We don’t have all the reports in to know what the exchange was between the driver and the protesters. We don't know if he [the driver] was agreeable or not."
The looming plant closure has made political figures out of several Sensata employees, who have unsuccessfully pleaded with Romney to intervene with Bain and prevent the move of jobs overseas. Several of the workers have told HuffPost that they fear losing what are some of the few good manufacturing jobs that remain in the area, leaving them to start new jobs mid-career.
The Romney campaign has been mostly quiet on the Sensata drama, although a campaign spokesman recently said President Barack Obama was more responsible for the loss of jobs at Sensata than Romney was. The candidate left Bain years ago and no longer has control over the firm's business decisions, although he has enjoyed certain tax breaks thanks to his investment in Sensata.
Several workers, including Gaulrapp, have highlighted their plight at an encampment across from the street that they've named "Bainport" and billed as "the home of the Romney economy."
"We're fighting to save our jobs from being shipped to China by the end of this year," the group says on its website. "We are calling on Mitt Romney to come to Freeport, IL and we will camp across the street from our plant for as long as it takes!"
Gaulrapp said Monday that he was moved by the protesters' willingness to be detained for the sake of people they in most cases haven't met.
"That’s the one thing we can't do as employees, is physically put ourselves in front of the truck," Gaulrapp said. "They're willing to go to jail for that, and that’s just amazing that somebody cares that much about people they just don’t know. They’ve stood behind us; they’ve become like another family for us. It restores your faith in people."
Also on HuffPost:
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.