David Corn sets up
his explosive scoop about Mitt Romney's role in Bain Capital's investment in Stericycle, a medical-waste firm that disposed of aborted fetuses, among other things:
Earlier this year, Mitt Romney nearly landed in a politically perilous controversy when the Huffington Post reported that in 1999 the GOP presidential candidate had been part of an investment group that invested $75 million in Stericycle, a medical-waste disposal firm that has been attacked by anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics.
As Corn points out, this happened just as voting was getting underway in the Republican primary, when Mitt Romney was at his most vulnerable with both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum posing serious threats to his candidacy. Romney simply couldn't afford a controversy that would put him at odds with the GOP's evangelical base, so instead of defending the investment in Stericycle, he denied having anything to do with it.
You know what's coming next, right? Yep:
But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission—and obtained by Mother Jones—list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents—one of which was signed by Romney—also contradict the official account of Romney's exit from Bain.
So instead of admitting to social conservatives that he played a role in Bain's investment in Stericycle, Romney lied. It would be bad enough if the safety issues were what he was dodging responsibility for, but he was scared to admit that he had helped fund a company because it was doing something which any reasonable person recognizes must be done: dispose of medical waste from abortions.
But this isn't just a profile in cowardice, it's a profile in dishonesty. Not only did Romney have a role in the deal and sign documents related to it, but as Corn points out, contemporaneous press releases and news reports demolish Romney's claim to have had nothing to do with Bain Capital after departing for the Olympics. According to both Bain and the media, Romney continued to participate in decision making at the company, even during his "part-time leave of absence."
This story doesn't just undercut Romney's claims about Stericycle, it also calls into question every other defense of his practices at Bain Capital. Because Romney and Bain refuse to open their books, their response to criticism has always been some variant of "trust us, that's not true." And as this story shows, trusting them is a fool's errand.