Among Mitt Romney’s most prolific fundraisers are two dozen current and former employees of Bain Capital and its parent firm who have helped raise at least $4.5 million to help their former colleague defeat President Obama.
The Romney campaign has not disclosed the 26 current and former Bain employees as “bundlers,” but USA TODAY has identified them through invitations to fundraisers where they served on the host committee.
Obama has released his list of bundlers, leading to a coordinated attack by Romney allies this week accusing the president of “political payoffs” in the form of federal grants and loans to his fundraisers. One bundler cited was California investor Steve Westly, whose company’s holdings include a firm that receive money for an Energy Department program.
Romney has not released his own list of bundlers, so USA TODAY has compiled its own list of more than 1,200 from Romney press releases, lobbyist disclosures, fundraiser invitations and other news accounts.
Most of Romney’s Bain bundlers are former partners at Bain Capital, the Boston-based private equity firm that Romney says he left in 1999. But the list also includes two current managing directors whose tenure overlapped with Romney’s: Steven Barnes and his wife have contributed $151,600 to various committees supporting Romney, and Stephen Zide and his wife have contributed $655,000.
Zide is on the board of Sensata Technologies, and owns at least a 10 per cent share in the company, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sensata is the former sensors and controls division of Texas Instruments bought by Bain in 2006 for $3 billion. Now, it’s laying off 170 employees at its Freeport, Ill., plant and moving the jobs to China .
Monday, the Freeport City Council called on Romney to visit the town and ask his former company to save American jobs. “He’s still getting plenty of income from his investments at Bain. This is a company he created,” said Cheryl Randecker, a Sensata employee who said she’s been training her Chinese replacements. “Romney talks about creating American jobs. We don’t have to create them if we would just leave them.”
Zide’s secretary referred questions to Bain Capital spokesman Alex Stanton, who said he would not comment.
Obama, too, has taken $118,121 in campaign contributions from employees of Bain Capital and parent Bain& Co. since 2004, according to the centre for Responsive Politics — something the Romney campaign says demonstrates the “height of hypocrisy.”
“President Obama has based his entire re-election campaign on a vicious, dishonest assault on Mitt Romney’s business career,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “The real question for President Obama is this: If Bain Capital is so bad, why have you taken nearly $120,000 in donations from them?”
Other Romney bundlers with Bain connections include Dick Boyce, who also gave $300,000 to Restore Our Future super PAC, and Edward Conard, who gave $1 million to the Romney-affiliated super PAC last year through a phantom company.
The value of these bundlers is also in the contributions they bring in from others. Since Romney doesn’t disclose his bundlers, there’s no way of knowing the exact amount raised. But many Romney events have minimum fundraising amounts for co-hosts, totaling at least $835,000 for the Bain bundlers.
For example, Boyce and six other current and former Bain partners — private equity investors Jennifer Fonstad, Eric Ragatz, Jesse Rogers and Jared Stone, Bain San Jose office head Tom Holland and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman — hosted a May 30 fundraiser at Chateau Carolands in Hillsborough, Calif. Each host brought in at least $50,000 in contributions, according to a campaign fundraising invitation that specified the amount of money each host needed to bring in.
Boyce, now partner of TPG Capital, did not return a call seeking comment. He’s rarely spoken publicly of his relationship with Romney, but wrote a letter about it in 2008 to the San Jose Mercury News: “Mitt Romney interviewed me for a job 30 years ago at Bain and Co., and I worked with him on and off for over a decade there. It would be no contest if candidates in either party were judged by the calibre of people they have hired, mentored and promoted over the past 30 years.”
Conard, author of a new book defending Wall Street bankers, agreed to be interviewed but then canceled after telling MSNBC that Romney was “legally” in charge of Bain capital until 2002 — a fact the Romney campaign disputes.
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