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Blowing Smoke': Team Obama's 'Felon' Charge Gets Debunked by the Washington Post (3 Pinocchios!)

Blowing Smoke': Team Obama's 'Felon' Charge Gets Debunked by the Washington Post (3 Pinocchios!)

"...if this is all they have left in July, Team Obama is completely out of gas."

It’s confirmed: the Obama campaign enjoys being publicly ridiculed by the Washington Post’s (WaPo) Fact Checker for its over-the-top dishonesty.

Seriously, this is the only explanation we can come up with for why Team Obama keeps making these patently false and easily refuted claims. And they’re not little fibs either! They’re great big honkin' lies like “Hey, you know, Romney could be a felon.”

Anyway, it might be safe to assume at this point that the relationship between the Obama campaign and the Fact Checker is, um, strained (to say the least).

This time around, the WaPo's Glenn Kessler evaluates Team Obama’s aforementioned “Romney is a felon” charge (which we discussed at great length yesterday on The Blaze) and, as it turns out, the Obama campaign has really blown it on this one.

Here's the claim from Obama campaign counsel member Robert Bauer:

Romney and Bain claim that he was not involved with Bain, but Bain and its portfolio companies in their required filings under the Securities Exchange Act continuously certified to the Securities and Exchange Commission say precisely the opposite — asserting without qualification that he was a controlling person, fully in charge of Bain, under the Federal securities law.

Under normal circumstances, the question of the truth of this representation would result in an investigation by the SEC into possible criminal, as well as civil, violations of the law.

First, as the Fact Checker notes, SEC documents are public. This is real life, not a movie. Just because they’re -- gasp! -- little-known SEC documents doesn't mean that they contain a treasure trove of corporate financial secrets.

But let’s cut back a little on the snark for a minute and look at the facts as they’re presented by Kessler:

One of the SEC documents in question that has received attention in recent days is a Form 13D that was posted by Talking Points Memo. A Form13D is filed when an investor or investment group announces that it has acquired more than five percent of the company.


Romney is not mentioned in the filing … made at the time of the sale; instead, two Bain executives who sat on the board are listed. Romney is listed in the documents involving the investment fund that made the filing, Bain Capital Fund VI, L.P., which was formed prior to his departure for the Olympics.

... One expert examined this document at our request. He suspected that someone had simply duplicated a filing that had been made many times before, though he acknowledged, “it looks inartful in retrospect.” He pointed out that the titles are basically meaningless, that someone can be listed as a chief executive and actually have no responsibilities whatsoever.

But, but, what about it being a felony? As Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said yesterday, the SEC filings prove Romney was either “misrepresenting his position” at Bain to the SEC, “which is a felony," or he was “misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people.”

Again, we turn to Kessler:

The SEC can bring civil charges for discrepancies in filing 13D documents, but as far as we can tell none has ever been brought for someone listing a misleading title. The more common 13D investigation involves a situation in which investors secretly act in collusion to acquire more than five percent of the stock, but fail to disclose that — or if investors do not make a timely disclosure that their holdings have fallen below five percent.

Moreover, there is a five-year statue [sic] of limitations, though the clock could start from when the SEC becomes aware of the matter. But 12 years have passed since the filing in question. Bringing in a federal prosecutor to examine criminal charges is even a bigger stretch.

Huh. Well, how about that?

Still not convinced? How about this Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission report from 2002 that certifies Romney was eligible to run for governor:

Romney Ballot Law Commission Decision

To save you some time, we’ll skip to the conclusion of the report, which, by the way, was the result of weeks of testimony and investigations:

The Respondent remained actively employed at Bain Capital until January 1, 1999, at which time he left to take the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Simply put, an official state investigation found that before he ran for governor, Romney stepped down from managing Bain Capital in 1999.

As always, what’s the bottom line?

The Obama campaign is blowing smoke here.

… the weight of evidence suggests that Romney did in fact end active management of Bain in 1999. He stated that in a federal disclosure form he signed, under threat of criminal penalties. He said he was a “former employee” in a state disclosure form. A state commission concluded 10 years ago that he did, indeed, leave Bain in 1999. Investors in Bain funds were told he was not part of the management team.

The SEC documents, especially the ones Romney signed, do raise some questions. One can certainly argue that because Romney did not fully extricate himself from Bain till after his Olympic sojourn ended, he should bear some responsibility for what happened in that period. But that is an entirely different matter than suggesting that he is a potential criminal.

Kessler awards the “Romney is a felon” claim three Pinocchios, as opposed to four, because "the documents with [Romney's] signature leave some room for inquiry" (personally, we think he's taking pity on what is starting to look like an increasingly desperate campaign).

We should add that since falsely accusing the former Massachusetts governor of being a potential “felon,” the Romney campaign has demanded an apology from Team Obama (aka team “hopenchange”).

“Don’t hold your breath,” Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey writes, “but do take heart -- if this is all they have left in July, Team Obama is completely out of gas.”

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