And these documents challenge Romney’s claim that he left Bain Capital in early 1999.
By David Corn
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. Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate’s reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.
But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. 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.
The Stericycle deal—the abortion connection aside—is relevant because of questions regarding the timing of Romney’s departure from the private equity firm he founded. Responding to a recent Washington Post story reporting that Bain-acquired companies outsourced jobs, the Romney campaign insisted that Romney exited Bain in February 1999, a month or more before Bain took over two of the companies named in the Post‘s article. The SEC documents undercut that defense, indicating that Romney still played a role in Bain investments until at least the end of 1999.
Here’s what happened with Stericycle. In November 1999, Bain Capital and Madison Dearborn Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, filed with the SEC aSchedule 13D, which lists owners of publicly traded companies, noting that they had jointly purchased $75 million worth of shares in Stericycle, a fast-growing player in the medical-waste industry. (That April, Stericycle had announced plans to buy the medical-waste businesses of Browning Ferris Industries and Allied Waste Industries.) The SEC filing lists assorted Bain-related entities that were part of the deal, including Bain Capital (BCI), Bain Capital Partners VI (BCP VI), Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors (a Bermuda-based Bain affiliate), and Brookside Capital Investors (a Bain offshoot). And it notes that Romney was the “sole shareholder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of BCI, BCP VI Inc., Brookside Inc. and Sankaty Ltd.”
The document also states that Romney “may be deemed to share voting and dispositive power with respect to” 2,116,588 shares of common stock in Stericycle “in his capacity as sole shareholder” of the Bain entities that invested in the company. That was about 11 percent of the outstanding shares of common stock. (The whole $75 million investment won Bain, Romney, and their partners 22.64 percent of the firm’s stock—the largest bloc among the firm’s owners.) The original copy of the filing was signed by Romney.
Another SEC document filed November 30, 1999, by Stericycle also names Romney as an individual who holds “voting and dispositive power” with respect to the stock owned by Bain. If Romney had fully retired from the private equity firm he founded, why would he be the only Bain executive named as the person in control of this large amount of Stericycle stock?
- Romney lied about role in Bain’s investment in medical-waste firm that disposed of aborted fetuses (dailykos.com)
- Old Mitt’s Investment in a Fetus-Disposal Company Is Not a Great Thing for New Mitt (nymag.com)
- Romney Led Bain’s Investment in Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses (theatlanticwire.com)
- Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show (motherjones.com)
- A Bit More on Stericycle (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- “Caught In Another Lie”: Mitt Romney Invested In Medical Waste Firm That Disposed Of Aborted Fetuses (mykeystrokes.com)
- Romney’s Latest Bain Problem: Aborted Fetuses – Mitt may have been involved with controversial Stericycle deal (tribuneofthepeople.com)
- Romney Blatantly Lies About Investment in Aborted Fetus Disposal Firm (jezebel.com)
- Romney Was Active Investor In Medical Waste Firm That Disposed Of Aborted Fetuses (alan.com)
- Where Are the Pro-Life Reactions to the Romney/Stericycle Story? (religiondispatches.org)