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Robert L. Cavnar

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Mitt Romney's Defense Simply Not Credible

Posted: 07/15/2012 7:56 pm

As I watched Mitt Romney bomb the networks on Friday, steadfastly sticking to his story that he had nothing whatsoever to do with Bain Capital after February 1999, even though he was listed as the firm's Chief Executive Officer, President, and Managing Director well into 2002, I was reminded of the lame defense put up by Jeff Skilling, the now imprisoned CEO of Enron, claiming he knew nothing of the activities of Andrew Fastow, his CFO, in dozens of off balance sheet transactions, asset shuffling, and mark-to-market scandals that drove the company off a cliff in 2001, at that time the largest bankruptcy in US history. What made Skilling's story unbelievable was that he was well known as a brilliant micro-manager. Ultimately, the jury didn't buy his excuses. The Enron collapse seems like ages ago, especially after it has been so totally overshadowed by the gargantuan financial failures of the last 5 years.

What makes Romney's story also so completely unbelievable is that he claims that when he was off running the Salt Lake City Olympics during those 3 years, he apparently was just signing whatever SEC disclosure document that was put in front of him, not exercising his fiduciary and managerial responsibilities as CEO of Bain. So, either Romney is not telling the truth, or, his actions were so reckless as to disqualify him from the office of President of the United States. I can tell you from my personal experience as a CEO who has run both private and public companies, you don't just sign whatever's put in front of you, especially with the additional scrutiny to which all CEOs are subject since the Enron collapse. Further evidence that Romney is not telling the truth or that he is unbelievably reckless is that during the very period he signed some of those documents without managerial review was the very time that the Enron scandal was unfolding. I can assure you that no executive during that period of time was signing anything that he/she wasn't absolutely sure was correct and accurate. Even today, responsible CEOs do everything they can do to assure that the documents they sign are true and accurate.

It's time for Romney to come clean about the entire Bain story, especially since he uses his experience at Bain as his primary qualification to be President of the United States. I remain unconvinced that the current story line is true, especially in the context of that particular time in US history when all executives' awareness of their actions was so acute. Until Romney tells the entire story, the American people are being denied the very information they need to exercise their most important right.

The right to vote.

 

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