For all Mitt Romney’s touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Nicholas Shaxson delves into the murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws, and investigating just how much of Romney’s fortune (with $30 million in Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands alone?) looks pretty strange for a presidential candidate.
A person who worked for Mitt Romney at the consulting firm Bain and Co.
in 1977 remembers him with mixed feelings. “Mitt was … a really
wonderful boss,” the former employee says. “He was nice, he was fair, he
was logical, he said what he wanted … he was really encouraging.” But
Bain and Co., the person recalls, pushed employees to find out secret
revenue and sales data on its clients’ competitors. Romney, the person
says, suggested “falsifying” who they were to get such information, by
pretending to be a graduate student working on a project at Harvard.
(The person, in fact, was a Harvard student, at Bain for the summer, but
not working on any such projects.) “Mitt said to me something like ‘We
won’t ask you to lie. I am not going to tell you to do this, but [it
is] a really good way to get the information.’ … I would not have had
anything in my analysis if I had not pretended.
“It was a strange atmosphere. It did leave a bad taste in your mouth,” the former employee recalls.
This unsettling account suggests the young Romney—at that point only two
years out of Harvard Business School—was willing to push into gray
areas when it came to business. More than three decades later, as he
tried to nail down the Republican nomination for president of the United
States, Romney’s gray areas were again an issue when he repeatedly
resisted calls to release more details of his net worth, his tax
returns, and the large investments and assets held by him and his wife,
Ann. Finally the other Republican candidates forced him to do so, but
only highly selective disclosures were forthcoming.