Yesterday evening, several sources reported that Gloria Allred would be in Boston court this morning seeking to unseal a gag order on testimony by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in an unspecified case. Many observers wondered what the case might be, and what the surprise would exactly entail. Now, we have a good idea.
Allred is seeking to unseal testimony by Romney in the divorce proceedings of Staples founder Tom Stemberg, a Romney surrogate and founder of a company that marks one of Bain Capital's most prominent early successes. Stemberg also served as Romney's campaign manager during the former Massachusetts Governor's failed run for President in 2008.
However, Stemberg has a skeleton in his closet. His divorce proceedings with his ex-wife, Maureen, were apparently extremely nasty, and Maureen herself is the subject of a documentary that aired on Lifetime. Roz Zurko of the Examiner explains:
Romney was a key witness in a high-profile divorce case between Staples co-founder Tom Stemberg and his wife Maureen. Stemberg is one of Romney’s biggest supporters and allegedly the Republican Presidential hopeful was “heavily involved” in this very messy and long drawn-out divorce, which was “bitter and ugly,” according to TMZ. Romney not only gave a deposition in this divorce case, but he also testified at the trial and both testimonies are protected under this court ordered seal.
Romney and Stemberg’s ties “run deep” and Romney’s venture capital company helped launch Staples, which is considered the first big success for Romney’s company. He stayed invested in the inner workings of Staple’s by sitting on the board of directors for many years.
What all this has to do with Romney and the election is not known at this time, but it is believed that Allred represents Maureen Stemberg and getting at Romney’s deposition and his testimony from this case with a court order is somehow very important to this lawyer. Getting the gag order lifted so the people involved in the case are free to talk is another strategy which appears to be of utmost importance to Allred today.
Nevertheless, ugly though these proceedings may have been, one has to ask the question - what do they have to do with Romney, whose testimony in the divorce proceedings allegedly focused only on Staples stock prices?
Ironically, an article from 2008 by liberal blogger Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti may provide the answer. Here is Polizzotti's take on Romney's participation:
Apart from a close friendship, which is no secret, between Mitt Romney and Tom Stemberg, one turns the question over and over why it is that the now Governor of Massachusetts would have ever testified in a divorce case? We speak here of Mitt Romney’s relationship with Staple’s founder Tom Stemberg who is now Romney’s Campaign Manager. He was called, that’s why, and had no choice, but Romney did have a choice and an obligation to be completely forthcoming on the stand.
But then, the details haven’t been made clearly public, so in some effort to set the long and very winding road straight (for this is really like going through the looking glass, which may well be as it is intended), Mitt Romney and Tom Stemberg go back a long way – all the way to the very founding of Staples when Romney was working for Bain and felt that Staples was perhaps a good investment and was the first investor to come on board to the tune of $650,000 dollars.
It was about a year and half later later, in 1988 when called as a witness by Tom Stemberg’s lawyers for a divorce case that Romney said on record that Staples stock was, essentially, “over-valued. In his own-words, Romney said, “I didn’t place a great deal of credibility in the forecast of the company’s future.” (p. 441, appeals court document No. 95 P 286, Norfolk County) Romney is then asked how many times in the past he has “reviewed these kinds of offerings” (441). Yet in the early Spring of 1989 Staples went public. So much for undervalued. Either Mitt does not know his figures, or he was dangerously close to perjuring himself on the stand or outright lying. You decide…[...]
But the Sullivan-Stemberg divore case is no joke and speaks yet more to Romeny’s integrity. Romney did a two-step cha-cha - at best - and all for the benefit of a friend (and likely himself) during a divorce case; only a court of law can decide whether or not he perjured himself and what he tells us now. If you did tell the truth then, are you telling the truth now, Mr. Romney? Or did you lie on the stand then about Staples and are now touting it’s great value as your “proudest achievement”. which is it Mr. Romney, Mr. Stemberg? You can’t have it both ways.
For Tom Stemberg to say that the idea of founding Staples was his and his alone and to reap all of the profit and gain is not only ufair, it reeks of sexism, but coming from a man who committed adultery more than once and impregnated another woman during an “affair” (call it what you will), this is hardly surprising. In fact, none of this is surprising. The only surprising part is that Mitt Romney – the man who Would Be President – is best-friends with Tom Stemberg, because Tom Stemberg is a lot of things, but family values he ain’t. No: he’s Mr. Romney’s Campaign Manager.
Astute readers can see the problem. Romney will likely be accused by Allred of deliberately misrepresenting Staples' stock prices in order to cheat a friend's ex-wife out of divorce money. The "damned if you did, damned if you didn't" conundrum is obvious in the narrative the Left could spin. If Romney didn't lie about the stock prices and really thought the company was about to go belly up, then his negotiations to take the company public suggest he was cheating his clients, Allred et al will argue. If Romney didn't think the company was going to go belly up, then he used his economic influence to defraud a woman, and a victim of adultery.
Of course, it may be that Maureen Stemberg has already started attacking Romney. Dana Loesch uncovered a treasure trove of comments by a woman calling herself "Maureen Stemberg," who repeatedly slams Romney and his Mormonism while talking up President Obama:
(All photos courtesy of Dana Loesch)
In other words, Allred is trying to use the testimony of a clearly (and justifiably) embittered woman to tar Romney for his association with that woman's ex-husband. Whether any voters will care to follow this guilt by association circus is anyone's guess. It may well be that Allred's attack will be canceled out by Donald Trump's supposed bombshell, which will also be released today. However, with just 13 days to go, this campaign just took a turn for the tabloid-esque.
UPDATE: The hearing on releasing Romney's testimony has been rescheduled for Thursday morning, October 25.