Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Obama’s Bain Hypocrisy

by Alana Goodman

ABC News reports that one of Obama’s top bundlers, Bain Capital executive Jonathan Lavine, actually appears to have had much more of a connection to the Ampad plant-closing issue than Mitt Romney did:

The Obama campaign’s latest attack tells the story of workers at an Indiana office supply company who lost their jobs after a Bain-owned company named American Pad & Paper (Ampad) took over their company and drove it out of business.

Here’s what the Obama web video doesn’t mention: A top Obama donor and fundraiser had a much more direct tie to the controversy and actually served on the board of directors at Richardson, Texas-based Ampad, which makes office paper products….

Lavine started working for Bain in 1993. He was one of three Bain executives who served on the board of directors of Ampad for several years, a post he held until 1999. Here’s a news release announcing his departure from the company in April 1999.

Lavine’s placement on the board of Ampad suggests he had a more direct role than Romney in the series of events surrounding the layoffs, labor disputes and eventual bankruptcy of the Marion, Ind., factory featured in the Obama campaign video.

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt gave ABC an evasive response when asked about the contradiction:

“No one aside from Mitt Romney is running for president highlighting their tenure as a corporate buyout specialist as one of job creation,” LaBolt said. “The president has support from business leaders across industries who have seen him pull the economy back from the brink of another depression.”

True, Romney is the only candidate running as a turnaround artist and job-creator. But Obama is also the only candidate running on the claim that Bain Capital is a greedy company that bulldozed smaller businesses and destroyed lives. If that’s the centerpiece of his reelection strategy – and so far it sounds like it is – isn’t it noteworthy that he’s taking large donations from Bain leadership?

It’s not just donations, either. Lavine’s name appeared six times on the White House visitor logs since Obama took office, including a meeting with Rahm Emanuel in 2009. Lavine and two other Bain executives, Josh Bekenstein and Mark Nunnelly, were also invited to a White House event encouraging the private sector to invest in community-oriented non-profits in 2009. In a speech at the event, Obama called on the attending business leaders to “provide that critical seed capital to launch these ideas”:

So all of this represents a new kind of partnership between government and the non-profit sector. But I can tell you right now, that partnership isn’t complete, and it won’t be successful, without help from the private sector. And that’s why I’m glad that there are some deep pockets in the audience here — foundations, corporations, and individuals. You need to be part of this effort, as well. And that’s my challenge to the private sector today.

Note that Lavine, Bekenstein and Nunnelly were all top Bain executives during Romney’s tenure and remain so today. The fact that the White House invited them to an event to encourage them to invest in vital non-profits seems to contradict the White House’s current claim that Bain had a history of destroying companies it invested in.

Alana Goodman


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