Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Ad Watch: A singing Romney is bashed for foreign business dealings

The Obama campaign began airing this ad against Mitt Romney last week.

President Barack Obama’s election campaign rolled out a TV ad this week that attacks a singing Mitt Romney’s record.

The 30-second spot features Romney singing "America the Beautiful" a capella as scenes and statements flash on the screen about Republican’s foreign business dealings.  

Many of the claims in the ad have been previously addressed by PolitiFact. Here’s a recap:


" Ad claim: "In business, Mitt Romney's firms shipped jobs to Mexico and China."

Romney founded Bain Capital in 1984, which focused on investing in new companies and turning them around. There’s no question that one of the company’s under Bain’s watch -- Modus Media -- created jobs in Mexico and China.

There’s no clear evidence that the Chinese jobs were transferred from the United States, according to PolitiFact National. But in 2000, Modus disrupted the lives of about 200 American workers when it announced it was closing a plant in California and opening one in Mexico.

Romney says he quit the day-to-day running of Bain in February 1999 and was not making decisions when companies it was involved with laid off workers and outsourced jobs. On SEC statements and other filings, Bain continued to list Romney variously as CEO, managing director and president as late as 2002. But Bain has released internal memos that seem to show Romney played no role in management decisions.

"Looking at all the evidence made public so far, we do not think Romney was actively involved in the day-to-day management of Bain after 1999," PolitiFact National wrote on July 13.

Ad claim: As governor, Romney outsourced jobs to India."

Obama’s campaign pointed to news reports from 2004 -- the second year of Romney’s term. The Democratic legislature sent Romney a budget with an amendment to prohibit the state from "contracting with companies that outsource the state’s work to other countries," according to the Boston Globe.

At the time, Massachusetts had a $160,000 contract with Citigroup to process debit cards for food stamps. Citigroup outsourced its customer service call center to India. Massachusetts was hardly unique; a 2005 study by the General Accounting Office found 43 states had contracts that outsourced work.

Romney vetoed the amendment, noting that outsourcing jobs saved the state money and even if those positions returned to the United States, they would not necessarily be located in Massachusetts, which did not have many call centers. The bottom line, he said, was that the bill would cost his state and provide little or no benefit.

PolitiFact ruled the ad claim Half True, saying the wording of Obama’s statement suggests a broad and deliberate policy by Romney to send work overseas. By vetoing the bill,  Romney simply let an arrangement continue.

Ad claim: "He had millions in a Swiss bank account..."

PolitiFact National evaluated this claim and gave it a True rating. The trustee for the Romney family’s financial investments, Brad Malt, acknowledged the fact during a conference call with reporters in January.

The account, which Malt said he opened in 2006 and closed in 2010, was in blind trust for Ann Romney, the candidate’s wife. Blind trusts are accounts that use money managers to make investment decisions so that a public official can be protected from the appearance of conflicts of interest.

The account held about $3 million, Malt said. In a 2006 disclosure form for the presidential race, the money market account was valued between $1 million and $5 million. PolitiFact emphasized that there is nothing improper by having some assets in a Swiss bank account. It was included in the Romney’s filings to the IRS and U.S. Treasury and they paid U.S. taxes on the account.

Ad claim: He had millions in "tax havens like Bermuda ..."

According to filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors,  Ltd. is a "Bermuda Corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney." Romney included Sankaty on his 2010 tax return and 2011 estimated filing. The beginning balance is pegged at $10,432.

On July 10, PolitiFact ruled as True as Democratic claim that Romney did to disclose Sankaty in filings when he was running for governor of Massachusetts and in his presidential campaigns. But he did disclose his blind trust, which has controlled Sankaty since 2003, when Romney began his gubernatorial campaign.

Ad claim: He had millions in tax havens like "the Cayman Islands."

PolitiFact National has previously rated this claim True.

Romney’s camp has acknowledged investments in the Caymans. They include BCIP Associates III Cayman, which yielded more than $1 million in dividends, interest and capital gains in 2007 and BCIP Trust Associates, yielded between $1 million and $5 million for Romney’s retirement. Some of the investments are through tax-exempt entities, such as an IRA account, and others are in third-party entities through blind trusts.

Romney’s financial investment trustee told reporters in a conference call that the Cayman funds file are reported on Romney’s tax filings.

The Caymans do not impose the same taxes as the U.S. and can be considered a tax haven, David S. Miller, a tax attorney with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in New York, told PolitiFact.