Buzzfeed Misses the Mark on Romney's Time at the Olympics

Buzzfeed Misses the Mark on Romney's Time at the Olympics

Wednesday, Buzzfeed publisheda document and a brief video clip to suggest that Romney was still CEOof Bain Capital after 1999. Here’s the description that goes with thearticle:

Mitt Romney has spent much of the last week arguing that, despitesome public records, he was effectively gone from Bain Capital inFebruary 1999. But in February 2000, Romney was introduced as theappearance about the Olympics, and Romney’s biography on the Olympic’swebsite listed him as Bain Capital “founder and CEO.”

Let’s take these in reverse order. The biography of Romney whichBuzzfeed pulled from the 2001 version of the Olympic Games website isnot from 2001. It’s a press release published in February of 1999. A full color version of the same text was published in the official Olympics magazine the same month. Notice that all three versions state “Romney, 51, is the son of the late George Romney.”But Romney wasn’t 51 in 2001, nor in 2000 for that matter. In fact, heturned 52 on March 12, 1999. So this document was clearly written beforethat time. The fact that Romney’s online bio was never updated doesn’tprove anything.

The other item is a clip from a CSpan videoin which Romney is being introduced to the National Press Club in early2000. Buzzfeed starts the clip in the middle to of the introduction tosuggest that Romney was being introduced as the CEO of Bain. But if yourewind to the beginning of the introduction it’s clear that Romney isbeing introduced not as the CEO of Bain, but as the CEO of the 2002Olympic Organizing Committee:

Willard Mitt Romney, our speaker, quoted his father, the formerGovernor of Michigan as saying about Washington that it’s the fastestplace to go from Who’s Who to “Whose that?” Now Mr. Romney comes to Washington in his Who’s Who role asthe President and Chief Executive Officer of the Salt Lake CityOrganizing Committee for the Olympic Games of 2002, a post that he’sheld since last year.

It’s only later, in summarizing Romney’s full biography, that his role at Bain is mentioned:

Who is Mr. Romney and why was he selected to head these games?Well, Mitt Romney is a lot of things. He’s a venture capitalist. He’s asenatorial candidate, although an unsuccessful one and son of the lateGeorge Romney the former Governor of Michigan as I’ve just said. Andhe’s the white night who was selected to clean up the image of theOlympic Games after the bribery and vote pedaling scandals that came tolight just over a year ago. And he’s the turnaround specialist who waschosen to improve the Salt Lake Games’ finances.

From 1978 to 1984, Mr. Romney was a vice president of Bain and Company, an international management consulting firm. And he’s the founder and CEO of Bain Capitala private holding company that was organized in 1984. And since it’sfounding Bain Capital has acquired or started more than 120companies…In 1994 Romney decided to run in Massachusetts as a Republican against a Kennedy…

Now, as almost everyone knows, the Olympic site selection process has been under scrutiny…Mr. Romney was named President and CEO for the Salt Lake Games on February 11th 1999 and that was just two days after thescandal was documented in a 300 page ethics report. His appointment waspart of the organizing committees plan to clean up and move forward.

On paper, Romney was still the CEO of Bain in 2000, but as a 2000 version of the Bain website (also published by Buzzfeed)shows, he was not part of the company’s management team that year. Andas this introduction makes clear twice, he had left that positionstarting in February 1999.

After his speech during a Q&A session Romney was asked why heleft his very successful business to get involved with the Olympics. Hisreply focuses on his desire to do something that would inspire peopleand to use his life for something beyond making money and buildingbusinesses. In short, he left Bain in February 1999 to serve hiscountry.