President Obama and his allies have been hammering Mitt Romney for investing in companies that were allegedly “pioneers in the business of outsourcing American jobs,” citing a June 21st Washington Post report that details how the companies sent or created work overseas.
Said Vice President Joe Biden today on the stump in Iowa, “Mitt Romney helped companies take work that was being done – or could have been done – in the United States, and had it done overseas.” The attack centers on Romney’s tenure as a corporate buyout specialist with Bain Capital, a private equity firm he founded and ran between 1984 and 1999.
Left unmentioned by Obama and Biden, however, is that three of the four companies identified as “outsourcing pioneers” in the Post piece were overseen in part by a Bain Capital executive who is now a major donor to Obama’s re-election campaign.
Jonathan Lavine, a managing director at Bain in Boston, has bundled between $100,000 and $200,000 for the Obama Victory Fund, according to estimates released by the Obama campaign. His role as an Obama bundler and the amount he’s raised for the president’s re-election is only known because of the voluntary release of that information by the Obama campaign. Romney, breaking with recent precedent, does not release the names or amounts of his top bundlers.
Lavine also served on the boards of directors for Stream International and Modus Media, and appears to have managed the Bain fund which held their investment in SMTC Corporation, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. All three companies named in the Post report expanded overseas operations under Romney and Lavine’s watch.
Now a co-owner of the Boston Celtics, Lavine began working for Bain in 1993, according to his bio on the website of Columbia University, where he is a trustee. He also previously served on the board of American Pad & Paper (Ampad), a Bain-owned Indiana office supply company that went bankrupt, laid off its workers and is now a poster child for Obama campaign’s case against Romney as a job-killing corporate raider.
*In a statement, Bain Capital defended its business practices and Lavine. “ABCNews.com has unfortunately repeated assertions first published in The Washington Post that were misleading and which mischaracterized the activities of several Bain Capital companies,” the firm said.
“For example, Stream International and Modus Media actually increased employment in the United States under our ownership, and during the time Jonathan Lavine served as a director. Additionally, as we told ABC News.com in May 2012, Lavine was not at Bain Capital when Ampad was acquired by the firm, and was not involved with the investment during the challenging situation at the Marion plant.” *
The Obama campaign also disputed any impropriety in fundraising from private equity executives with alleged ties to bankruptcies, layoffs and outsourcing, putting the focus on Romney as the one seeking office as a “job creator.” Aides have insisted the attacks are not on Bain itself, the private equity industry or specific investments, but rather Romney’s credibility as a “financial wizard.”
“No one aside from Mitt Romney is running for president saying that they know how to create jobs in America because they did it as a corporate buyout specialist,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.
“Romney’s job creation claims have unraveled: he invested in companies that were pioneers in sending American jobs overseas, and while the President is fighting to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, Romney’s tax plans would provide them additional incentives to outsource,” he said.
The Romney campaign has called the charges a “distortion,” denying a Romney role in outsourcing U.S. jobs en mass. Aides are reportedly seeking a formal retraction of the June 21st outsourcing story from the Washington Post. They argue the companies were creating new jobs rather than moving existing ones overseas.
**This post has been updated.