Gawker has a splashy new story covering its front page. "The Bain Files" covers the release of 950 pages of insider documents relating to various investments held by Mitt Romney via his connection to Bain Capital. But the big Bain release is looking a bit like a bust. The story begins with this long introduction, but here's the core of what author John Cook (pictured above) will reveal:
Many of them are offshore funds based in the Cayman Islands. Together,
they reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity
with which Romney has handled his wealth, the exotic tax-avoidance
schemes available only to the preposterously wealthy that benefit him,
the unlikely (for a right-wing religious Mormon) places that his money
has ended up, and the deeply hypocritical distance between his own
criticisms of Obama's fiscal approach and his money managers' embrace of
those same policies. They also show that some of the investments that
Romney has always described as part of his retirement package at Bain
weren't made until years after he left the company.
It's not until you click on the subsequent page of the multi-page story that you learn (in a parenthetical) that Romney isn't alone in his fondness for "mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity." Here's the relevant bit of a 2010 report by John Cassidy at the New Yorker:
Gawker is organized like an international money-laundering operation.
Much of its international revenues are directed through Hungary, where
Denton’s mother hails from, and where some of the firm’s techies are
located. But that is only part of it. Recently, Salmon reports, the
various Gawker operations—Gawker Media LLC, Gawker Entertainment LLC,
Gawker Technology LLC, Gawker Sales LLC—have been restructured to bring
them under control of a shell company based in the Cayman Islands,
Gawker Media Group Inc. [emphasis added]
Umpteen liberals pointed out on Twitter that Gawker isn't running for President. True, but that hardly eliminates the rank hypocrisy of sharply criticizing someone for doing exactly what your own employer does.
Gawker continued to lead with its chin on page 2 of the big story, where author John Cook explains, "Romney has long claimed, despite evidence to the contrary, that he
retired from Bain Capital in 1999. The Bain documents we obtained
indicate that his involvement with the company extended years past that
date." He then details evidence that some of Romney's investments didn't even exist until well after 2002!
Unfortunately for Gawker, CNN Money's Dan Primack, who had seen the documents weeks ago, offers a simple explanation for the discrepancy: "his retirement package provided Romney with ownership positions in Bain funds raised for 10 years after he left the firm (plus the ability to co-invest his own money). This isn't breaking news (mentioned here, for example)."
If you follow that final link, it takes you to a CNN Money story from July which explains Romney's ten-year retirement deal. Incidentally, that deal expired in 2009, further emphasizing that Romney left in 1999. Having missed all of that prior to publication, Gawker is left adding an update at the bottom of the page which completely undercuts the implications of everything that comes before it.
The story really doesn't improve much from there. Page 3 of the report offers the stunning revelation that people who managed some smallish portion of Mitt Romney's money sometimes (but not always) had different political outlooks than he did. Perhaps John Cook is unaware that hedge fund managers, including those at Bain Capital, have a long history of giving larger sums to Democrats than Republicans, including to candidate Obama in 2008? Why should this be surprising or, for that matter, newsworthy?
There's some stuff on page 4 about short selling and credit default swaps which aren't illegal but might be embarrassing if Romney was controlling any of these decisions. The same can be said for page 5, where Gawker details Romney's investment in big sin! Funds which contain some of Romney's cash have been invested in casinos, Britney Spears, and cigarette distribution. Again, this might be embarrassing to Romney if he directed the investments, but he didn't. At best, the cigarette connection could provide the basis for a new Priorities USA ad blaming Romney for lung cancer.
Gawker established itself as the publication of last resort for sleazy political attacks in 2010 when it ran a despicable story on Christine O'Donnell (Google it, I'm not linking). As recently as two days ago, I read a solid story at the site which suggested maybe they were worth a second look, but The Bain Files is a big step backward.