Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney may be guilty of federal felony if he lied to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) about when he ceded control of Bain Capital, President Barack Obama's campaign suggested on Thursday.
The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that SEC documents showed that Romney continued to serve as Bain's “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" until 2002 -- even though he has repeatedly claimed that he left the company in 1999.
In an attempt to defend against claims that Romney was Bain's CEO during the period that the company invested in firms that moved American jobs to countries like China, FactCheck.org may have accidentally revealed that the GOP candidate committed a "federal felony."
"In fact, if the Obama campaign were correct, Romney would be guilty of a federal felony by certifying on federal financial disclosure forms that he left active management of Bain Capital in February 1999," FactCheck.org wrote before the The Boston Globe's report came to light.
Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer noted on Thursday that there could be "severe consequences" for individuals and companies that lied to the SEC.
"If in fact as he now claims that he was not active with the company, that he was not the controlling person that is described here, that means that these statements are false and as I said, there are very, very serious legal consequences that would follow," Bauer explained.
"Of particular consequence would be a misrepresentation that involves a controlling person," he added. "And as these representations show, Romney is the controlling person. You know, he is the person who is the sole stockholder, the chairman of the board, the chief executive officer and the president. And the consequences for the controlling person of this sort of potential misrepresentation -- and frankly on this record, it appears by his own words -- absolute misrepresentation because he's now saying none of this matters, none of this is true."
"Very, very serious. And in the normal course would subject somebody in this position to every manner of investigation with all the consequences that you can imagine that would follow."
For its part, the Romney campaign has claimed that the Globe article is simply incorrect.
"The article is not accurate," Romney press secretary Andrea Saul said on Thursday. "As Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point."
And Romney adviser Matt McDonald told Politico that the FactCheck.org analysis had been misunderstood.
"FactCheck was saying, if Mitt Romney was actively managing Bain, as the Globe asserts, and he certified that he wasn't actively managing Bain, then he would be guilty of a federal felony," McDonald said. "They are not saying that he would be guilty of a federal felony [just] for saying he left in 1999."