Yet while that affair "across the pond" is fun to watch , there's another one back here in "The States" that may be even more troubling for Mitt Romney.
Earlier this month, more evidence was unearthed on how Mitt Romney and Bain Capital were involved in outsourcing American jobs overseas. Now, Mother Jones' David Corn is back... And he's exposing another inconvenient truth about Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital.
When Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts he kept his distance from gambling. He turned down donations from the gaming industry for his privately underwritten inaugural gala. And though he initially supported allowing the establishment of slot parlors in order to close a $3 billion state deficit, he later announced he would not consider an expansion of gambling and decried the "social costs associated with gaming." On the presidential campaign trail this year, Romney similarly declared that he opposed online poker because "of the social costs and people's addictive gambling habits." He explained,"I don't want to increase access to gaming. I feel that we have plenty of access to gaming right now through the various casinos and establishments that exist."
As a onetime bishop of the Mormon church—which opposes gambling,including state-sponsored lotteries—Romney's lack of enthusiasm about legalized gambling is hardly surprising. Yet such reservations did not hinder him when he was a mega-financier. While Romney ran Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded, he owned a Bain-affiliated investment fund that bet heavy on betting.
In March 1999, shortly after Romney departed Bain to run the 2002 Winter Olympics, Brookside Capital Investors Inc., a Bain-related entity wholly owned by Romney, filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission detailing the investments held the past quarter in its $559 million portfolio. On this roster were 1.2 million shares of GTECH Holdings Corp., then valued at $29 million. The company billed itself in its 1999 annual report as "a leading global supplier of systems and services to the lottery and gaming/entertaining industries." This description put it mildly; GTECH was the world's largest supplier of computer equipment for lotteries. It operated about 30 of 37 state lotteries in the United States, along with lotteries in England, Israel, Turkey, Australia, and other countries. It also was teaming up with big gaming firms to buy or revamp casinos and race tracks, adding and upgrading gambling equipment at these venues.
In 1998, GTECH had pulled in nearly $1 billion in revenue from its various gaming ventures. At the time Romney was investing in the firm, it was seeking to become a pioneer in Internet gambling.
The SEC filing reporting the GTECH investment doesn't state when Romney's Brookside Capital fund first purchased shares in the firm, but in the mid- and late-1990s the gaming company had a controversial reputation. In 1998, Guy Snowden resigned as head of the company a day after losing a bitter libel battle against billionaire Richard Branson, who had accused Snowden of trying to bribe him into withdrawing from a competition to run England's national lottery. Reporting on Snowden's departure, Fortune noted that "Snowden's often sleazy, win-at-all-costs tactics…have helped make GTECH the dominant force in the computerized lottery business." Snowden's exit followed a run of GTECH scandals. In 1996, a top executive of the Providence, Rhode Island-based firm was convicted in New Jersey of fraud, bribery, money laundering, and conspiracy. (The exec had hired lobbyists to push for expanding the New Jersey lottery and had received kickbacks.) In Texas, where GTECH paid a well-connected lobbyist $3.2 million, there were also allegations of kickbacks and shady wheeling-and-dealing.
Yet again, Mitt Romney says one thing while doing the exact opposite. He claims he despises the practice of outsourcing American jobs overseas, yet his company is a "pioneer of outsourcing". And while Romney claims to piously observe the teachings of his church and court the religious right by decrying the gaming industry, his company was investing in not just any gaming company, but a very controversial one at that!
But then again, we really shouldn't be surprised. This is really Mitt Romney's MO. After all, he's fully embraced Sheldon Adelson and all his Macau mafia (supplied) mega millions that he's pumping into pro-Romney Super PACs. Even though Romney won't publicly embrace Adelson and his "Chinese enterprise", he certainly won't turn down any campaign cash from Las Vegas Sands' head gondoliere.
Really, does Mittens have any core at all? Is there anything he will stand for (other than not releasing his tax returns)? I wonder what he will do next. Will Romney admit his like for the gaming industry in an attempt to warm up to us here in Nevada? Or will he keep denying his gaming industry ties in order to prevent further alienation of the radical religious right (who hate gambling)?