The Campaign Spot

The Obama Attack Coming Down the Road: Stericycle?

A reader noticed this fascinating line at the bottom of a report on the falsity of the Obama campaign’s attacks about Bain:

And inside both Bain and the Romney campaign, there is a strong belief that either the Obama campaign or a Democratic ally wants to use another Bain investment against Romney late in the campaign but cannot do so with any credibility under the February 1999 departure scenario.

The investment in question: Stericycle, a medical waste company that, among other things, disposed of aborted fetuses.

How could the Stericycle investment be used against Romney?

Bain’s involvement in a company that disposed of aborted fetuses could make a powerful final week direct mail piece or attack ad on Christian radio. And in a close election, turnout of the religious right is one of the keys to a Romney victory in November.

Bain negotiated the Stericyle investment deal in November 1999, nine months after Romney said he left.

Bain’s investors pour money into numbered investment pools. Several sources said that Fund VII was the main investment vehicle at that time.

“You don’t see his name anywhere — in the meetings list, the investor documents, the manager paperwork — it would have to be there if he was involved in any way,” one current Bain officer said of Romney and Fund VII. “He was long gone then.”

Considering how the sudden revelation of George W. Bush’s twenty-four-year-old DUI hurt his bid in 2000, that certainly seems to fit past campaign history…

The right-wingers at the Huffington Post reported earlier this year, “By the time Bain Capital had made the investment in Stericycle, he had left the firm to run the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. He maintained ownership in Bain and kept holdings in its private equity funds, which included Stericycle stock, but he had no say in the managerial or strategic decisions at the firm, according to Bain officials.”

That report also noted, “Stericycle’s work with abortion clinics constitutes a ‘small’ portion of its overall operations, an official with the company told The Huffington Post (the official declined to confirm whether or not Planned Parenthood specifically is still a client)… There is no publicly available data showing that either Romney or other officials at Bain knew of Stericycle’s work with Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics before the investment.”

John King’s report quoted two Obama-backing former Bain executives who stated, unequivocally, that Romney stopped having a role in Bain’s decision making in 1999.

But first, is there anything other than the SEC filings to suggest a hands-on Romney role at Bain post-February 1999?

No is the word from four sources who communicated with CNN on Thursday — all of whom have firsthand knowledge of Bain’s operations at the time in question. Three of the four are Democrats, and two of the four are active Obama supporters in Campaign 2012.

All four told me Romney is telling the truth.

Only one, Bain Managing Director Steve Pagliuca, would talk on the record. The others spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing either Bain’s low-key culture or the desire not to anger friends in the Obama campaign.

Pagliuca, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for Senate in 2010, told CNN: “Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Olympics and has had absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies since the day of his departure.”

Video here:

Of course, if everyone knows that Romney wasn’t at Bain at the time, the attack won’t work. So in order to drive down turnout among pro-life voters, the Obama campaign needs the electorate to believe Romney was at Bain from 1999 to 2002.

UPDATE: More useful information from Steven Ertelt of here. Among the highlights:

  • Bain Capital sold off 40 percent of its shares in Stericycle in 2001 and sold the rest by 2004.

  • Stericycle apparently began contracting with abortion clinics in 2007.

  • The pro-life community only became aware of Stericycle’s role in abortion clinics, and campaigning against its work, in 2011.

Despite the fact that the timeline contradicts the smear, I’ll bet you a doughnut that somebody tries to discourage pro-life turnout by telling likely pro-life audiences that Mitt Romney “profited from abortions” this autumn.


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