The Los Angeles Times has joined the crowd: They finally have a front-page class-bashing exposé about an utterly banal fact of Mitt Romney’s personal finances, with a healthy dose of xenophobia, too. This time, we’re not worried about where Mitt put his money, but that other people put their money with Mitt! And those people are foreign — Bain was so shameless and downright criminal as to attract foreign capital to invest in the U.S. economy. Below are some excerpts from the story, with the most disturbing of the revelations highlighted:
When Mitt Romney launched Bain Capital. . . he and his partners tapped an eclectic roster of investors, raising more than a third of their first $37-million investment fund from wealthy foreigners.
Most of the foreign investors’ money came through corporations registered in Panama, then known for tax advantages and unusual banking secrecy.
Previously unreported details, documented in Massachusetts corporate filings and other public records, show that Bain Capital was enmeshed in the largely opaque world of international high finance from its very inception.
The documents don’t indicate any wrongdoing, and experts say that such financial vehicles are common for wealthy foreign investors. But the new details come as President Obama has criticized Romney for profiting from Bain Capital’s own offshore investment entities, which are unavailable to most Americans. . . .
The first outside investor in Bain was a leading London financier, Sir Jack Lyons, who made a $2.5-million investment through a Panama shell company set up by a Swiss money manager, further shielding his identity. Years later, Lyons was convicted in an unrelated stock fraud scandal.
About $9 million came from rich Latin Americans, including powerful Salvadoran families living in Miami during their country’s brutal civil war. . . .
At the time, U.S. officials were publicly accusing some exiles in Miami of funding right-wing death squads in El Salvador. Some family members of the first Bain Capital investors were later linked to groups responsible for killings, though no evidence indicates those relatives invested in Bain or benefited from it. . . .
Other early investors included Robert Maxwell, the British publishing baron, who invested $2 million. After his drowning death in 1991, investigators discovered Maxwell had stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from his company’s pension funds.
Some pretty disturbing stuff — London financiers, registered corporations, British publishing barons who died of drowning, investors whose relatives may have committed crimes. . . . It’s enough to make one worried that as president, star fundraiser Mitt Romney might actually endanger America by attracting more foreigners to invest their shekels here.
If he does, thankfully, there’s already an organ for that: As Andrea Saul pointed out in her sharp rebuttal, President Obama’s jobs council is partly intended to attract foreign investors to America.
Kevin Williamson has skewered the absurd protectionist atmosphere that accompanies campaigns, most often manifested in China-bashing; Romney was lucky he went to the tropics, not the Orient, for his fundraising trips. Then the LA Times would really have found a scandal.
Further, in their contorted attempt to make Romney seem more shadowy, the LA Times actually cleared up one of the significant misconceptions about Romney’s finances: His relationships with various “tax havens” and offshore corporations exist because all private-equity funds are structured that way, in order to attract foreign capital. It would be nice if this had been mentioned in one of the other front-page pieces making dark allegations about Romney’s investments.