Mitt Romney may not "apologize" for his success in business, but more importantly, you'll also likely never hear him say "thanks" to the American people for the Federal bailout of Bain Capital.
The trouble began in 1984, when Bain & Company spun off Bain Capital to engage in leveraged buyouts and put Romney in charge of the new operation. To free up money to invest in the new business, founder Bill Bain and his partners cashed out much of their stock in the consulting firm – leaving it saddled with about $200 million in debt. (Romney, though not a founder, reportedly profited from the deal.) "People will tell you that Bill raped the place clean, was greedy, didn't know when to stop," a former Bain consultant later conceded. "Did they take too much out of the firm? You bet."
The FDIC documents make clear what happened next: "Soon after the founders sold their equity," analysts reported, "business began to drop off." First came scandal: In the late 1980s, a Bain consultant became a key figure in an illegal stock manipulation scheme in London. The firm's reputation took a hit, and it fired 10 percent of its consulting force. By the time the 1989 recession began, Bain & Company found itself going broke fast. Cash flows weren't enough to service the debt imposed by the founders, and the firm could barely make payroll. In a panic, Bill Bain tapped Romney, his longtime protégé, to take the reins.
In fact, Romney had a direct stake in the survival of Bain & Company: He had been working to build the Bain brand his entire career, and felt he had to save the firm at all costs. After all, Bain sold top-dollar strategic advice to big businesses about how to protect themselves from going bust. If Bain & Company went bankrupt, recalls the Romney deputy, "anyone associated with them would have looked clownish." Indeed, when a banker from Goldman Sachs urged Bain to consider bankruptcy as the obvious solution to the firm's woes, Romney's desperation began to show. He flatly refused to discuss it – and in the ensuing argument, one witness says, Romney almost ended up in a brawl when the Goldman banker advised him to "go f*ck yourself." For the sake of Romney's career and fortune, bankruptcy was simply not an option – no matter who got screwed in the process.
It's no wonder Romney wouldn't want to discuss the details of the bailout during a campaign for office. And then when it came to "negotiating" repayment of the bailout, Romney threatened use of a loophole:
In a letter dated March 23rd, 1993, Romney reassured creditors that his latest scheme would return Bain & Company to "long-term financial stability." That same month, Romney once again threatened to "pay out maximum bonus distributions" to top executives unless much of Bain's debt was erased.
In the end, the government surrendered. At the time, The Boston Globe cited bankers dismissing the bailout as "relatively routine" – but the federal documents reveal it was anything but. The FDIC agreed to accept nearly $5 million in cash to retire $15 million in Bain's debt – an immediate government bailout of $10 million. All told, the FDIC estimated it would recoup just $14 million of the $30 million that Romney's firm owed the government.
Sounds more like blackmail than a negotiation, doesn't it?
As if this bailout doesn't sound crooked enough, Bain is now under investigation for tax evasion. Via Think Progress:
Since July, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been issuing subpoenas to private equity firms including Bain, which he believes intentionally changed management fees into capital gains as a way of hanging onto millions of dollars that would have otherwise been taxed at a higher rate. Bain alone is estimated to have saved “more than $200 million in federal income taxes and more than $20 million in Medicare taxes.” It is unclear whether the tax strategy was used while Romney was at the helm of the company, but the Times reports that Romney is still making money on funds that are using the method in question.
While an attorney for Romney insists that he “can confirm that neither he nor the trust has ever done this, whether before or after he(Romney) retired from Bain Capital," it would certainly be nice, for the sake of transparency, if Romney would release his tax returns.