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U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at his Illinois primary night rally in Schaumburg, Illinois, March 20, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
The 379 pages of Mitt Romney's tax returns contain a lot of words (like, say, Cayman Islands) and numbers (so many numbers, such big numbers) that make it hard to make much sense of them without an accounting background. But one phrase you'll see repeated often is "blind trust." It makes it all sound so aboveboard—the Romneys don't even know what their money is invested in, it's blind. Noble high-minded detached oracles invest the Romneys' money with no regard for their preferences, and the Romneys themselves can only wonder where their money is and what it might be doing. Is it sunning itself in the Cayman Islands? Skiing in Switzerland? They don't know, because it's in a blind trust. Only maybe it's not actually so blind.

In his 1994 Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy, Romney scoffed at the idea that blind trusts are actually blind, calling it "an age-old ruse." And it seems that when Romney, in 2003, set up his own blind trust, he went into it with the view that he was pulling off a ruse.

[...] government ethics experts and election lawyers told ABC News that Romney's trust might not be quite as blind as he has long maintained. That's because Romney placed his quarter-billion dollar family fortune in the hands of his personal lawyer and longtime associate Bradford Malt.

Federal officeholders are required to either fully disclose all their financial holdings and any possible conflicts of interest, or place their holdings in a blind trust. Robert Kelner, a Republican election lawyer in Washington, D.C. with no ties to a current presidential campaign, explained the federal rules governing those blind trusts. "The Office of Government Ethics requires that a financial institution be appointed as the trustee and that the financial institution not be controlled by or have done business with the candidate," said Kelner. "It would preclude you from hiring your favorite lawyer as the trustee."

It would preclude you from hiring your favorite lawyer ... like Mitt Romney did. And while Ann Romney has claimed she's curious about what's going on in that blind trust, she probably, for instance, is aware that they had $10 million in son Tagg's start-up private equity fund. Even for people as rich as the Romneys, $10 million is not an insignificant amount of money—it's not like you'd casually bet $10 million like you would $10,000. Bradford Malt, their blind trustee, insists that he just liked the business plan and personally trusted Tagg and his partners, but ... yeah, bullshit. Mitt Romney's personal lawyer/"blind" trustee did not just happen to put $10 million of Mitt Romney's money into Tagg Romney's start-up because it was objectively a better financial investment than any of the well-established funds out there with solid records of profit. So any report on Romney's taxes that takes the term "blind trust" at face value is starting off having bought into one level of Romney tax bullshit.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 02:12 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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