Eva Knott 6:37 p.m., May 25
Ex-U-T owner was "good guy" in Romney's alleged auto bailout profiteering
Romney charged with failing to report massive profits in deal tied to auto bailout. Platinum Equity failed in attempt to be workers' savior, according to press reports.
A coalition of good-government and labor groups called today (Nov.1) for the United States Office of Government Ethics to investigate presidential candidate Mitt Romney's alleged failure to disclose the massive profits he raked in from the auto bailout, which he opposed. Shortly, there will be a press conference in Toledo seeking to get the government to compel Romney to disclose his investments or divest them. Those pushing the investigation are the United Auto Workers (UAW), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, Public Campaign, and the Social Equity Group.
The charges are based in large part on an article in the Nation Magazine last month stating that the Romney family profited at least $15.3 million, and possibly more than $100 million, from the 2009 government auto loans through his investment in private funds putting money into the Delphi Corp. auto parts company, which was bailed out by the federal government as a necessary part of the General Motors and Chrysler rescues. Beverly Hills-based Platinum Equity, which recently sold the U-T to "Papa Doug" Manchester, had a plan for a Delphi takeover that would retain many Delphi jobs in the U.S. However, hedge funds in which Romney (in his wife's name) had invested outbid Platinum and got the prize. Last year, when Delphi went public, insiders raked in profits of more than 3,000 percent, according to the Nation article.
But according to the groups making the charges today, Romney's June 1, 2012 public financial disclosure report to the Office of Government Ethics did not reveal his alleged windfall because he didn't report underlying holdings of his private equity and limited partnership funds. The protesting groups suspect that Romney may have profited through offshore institutions. However, the candidate's refusal to reveal his 2009 income taxes precludes getting to the bottom of these transactions, according to those who have looked into the Delphi/hedge fund deal.
One question is how much effect will these revelations have on the election next week. I would guess they would have little effect. These are convoluted deals, deliberately made complicated to avoid public scrutiny. Incidentally, forcing Romney to divest his holdings would be an empty gesture; he has already made enormous profits, if what the investigators say is true.