Political analyst David Gergen, who has been an advisor to four presidents, makes a strong case on CNN.com that the Obama campaign is going too far in implying that Republican Mitt Romney may have committed a felony by providing misleading information about when he stepped down from Bain Capital.
Gergen admits at the top of his column that he is biased: He has had both a personal and financial relationship with the top partners at Romney’s old firm, he has been paid for speeches he has given at Bain dinners and he was on the board of a for-profit childcare company that was purchased by Bain (a transaction that he said he benefited from as a board member and shareholder).
“I have come to admire and like the leaders of Bain Capital because I have learned firsthand that in a private equity industry, where there are obviously some predatory companies, Bain stands out for the respect in which it is generally held and for the generous philanthropy of some of its partners. Nothing I have seen so far has shaken that view,” Gergen writes.
Gergen said all the reporting and investigating he has done has led him to conclude that Romney is telling the truth in saying that he abruptly left Bain in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympics—and because he left so abruptly and the bewildered company thought he might one day return, they never filed the proper paperwork saying he had stepped down until a couple of years after he had severed his management ties to the firm he founded.
“A sloppy mistake? Yes. An attempt to mislead? The evidence so far doesn’t show that,” Gergen writes. “Also of note: At the time, it seemed that he might return from the Olympics to active management, but in any event, he did not. Secondly, I do not know of (nor is there any controversy suggesting) his involvement in other companies during that time.”
But while he calls on the Obama campaign to stop implying that Romney has misled the public, Gergen does come down hard on Romney for failing to fully open up his finances and provide more than a year’s worth of tax records.
“He is asking voters to entrust him with the most powerful and important office in the world,” Gergen writes. “In return, voters have a right to know who he is and how he got here. Put it out, take whatever hits are coming, and move on. If he has been as honest as all his friends believe, he will ultimately be a stronger candidate and can refocus on what matters: the country.”