Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has based his entire campaign on his knowledge of business and his ability to turn around the economy in a way President Obama hasn’t.
His credentials are his experience running private equity firm Bain Capital, his successful turnaround of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, and his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, where his single four-year term represents his only experience in elected office.
Romney has tried to distance himself from the three years when he was running the Olympics and technically Bain’s CEO while Bain was doing some of its most controversial deals.
He’s also resisted demands to release more tax returns than the one and a half years he’s put out.
But now The Boston Globe has reported that Romney, who promised “complete transparency” when he took the reins of the scandal-racked winter Olympics, apparently never practiced what he preached.
Besides what The Globe described as a “close to the vest” management style (similar to what many say was his MO in Massachusetts), many of the records and archives Romney had promised to make public were quietly destroyed shortly after the Games ended in 2002. As The Globe wrote:
Romney did not oversee the destruction of organizing committee documents. That task fell to Fraser Bullock…, the committee’s chief operating officer and a former Romney colleague at Bain Capital, who took over as the Games’ chief executive when Romney left to run for governor of Massachusetts.
“Mitt didn’t have anything to do with any of those decisions,” Fraser Bullock said. “He was long gone, and it was really left up to the people left behind to decide what to keep and what not to keep.”
Who knows whether there were any words or hints exchanged between Romney and his former “colleague” at Bain (which Romney ran, of course)?
But almost immediately media outlets were stonewalled when they tried to get records or documents from the Olympics committee, directly contradicting Romney’s promise to give the Salt Lake City Olympics “the most open documents policy of any enterprise.”
The record destruction is also consistent with a later incident, when aides to the departing Gov. Romney spent more than $100,000 in Massachusetts state money to buy back their computers and even wiped clean a server in which emails were stored. Romney also got authorization to destroy 150 boxes of paper documents.
Talk about eliminating a paper trail!
As Reuters wrote: “Those actions erased much of the internal documentation of Romney’s four-year tenure as governor, which ended in January 2007.”
Don’t get me wrong: None of this apparently is illegal. Romney is nothing if not methodical, and you can count on him to protect himself legally as I’m sure he did with his Cayman Islands investments.
But it’s troubling how much this candidate has tried to keep the lid on any unfiltered material about him that might be grist for the mill of reporters or (his real worry) Democratic opposition researchers.
Almost all modern presidents have lapsed into secrecy, especially on national security issues, but I can’t remember the last major presidential candidate who concealed so much—from his tax returns to his tenure as Massachusetts governor to his plans for eliminating tax loopholes.
Oh, wait, I can. Back in 1968 Richard Nixon campaigned on a platform that he had a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War, and he refused to reveal the details. How’d that turn out?
Of course, Romney’s a lot smarter than Nixon was: Nixon preserved the Watergate tapes, while Romney destroyed the evidence even before he got to the Oval Office.