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a fish out of water | mitt romney - the wanna be president

Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 at 08:25AM by Registered Commentersadi ranson-polizzotti | Comments21 Comments | References18 References

Apart from a close friendship, which is no secret, between Mitt Romney and Tom Stemberg, one turns the question over and over why it is that the now Governor of Massachusetts would have ever testified in a divorce case? We speak here of Mitt Romney’s relationship with Staple’s founder Tom Stemberg who is now Romney’s Campaign Manager. He was called, that’s why, and had no choice, but Romney did have a choice and an obligation to be completely forthcoming on the stand.

But then, the details haven’t been made clearly public, so in some effort to set the long and very winding road straight (for this is really like going through the looking glass, which may well be as it is intended), Mitt Romney and Tom Stemberg go back a long way – all the way to the very founding of Staples when Romney was working for Bain and felt that Staples was perhaps a good investment and was the first investor to come on board to the tune of $650,000 dollars.  

It was about a year and half later later, in 1988 when called as a witness by Tom Stemberg’s lawyers for a divorce case that Romney said on record that Staples stock was, essentially, “over-valued. In his own-words, Romney said, “I didn’t place a great deal of credibility in the forecast of the company’s future.” (p. 441, appeals court document No. 95 P 286, Norfolk County) Romney is then asked how many times in the past he has “reviewed these kinds of offerings” (441).  Yet in the early Spring of 1989 Staples went public. So much for undervalued. Either Mitt does not know his figures, or he was dangerously close to perjuring himself on the stand or outright lying. You decide…Romney.jpg

Of course, as a senior at Bain, the answer can only be many times. Romney goes on to say that Tom Stemberg spoke about the future as if it were today. Tom Stemberg minimized the risk and maximized the high probability of success.” (p. 366 appeals court document No. 95 P 286, Norfolk County). And as Romney says to the attorney, “…and the dream went on.”

What is important to note here is that while Romney was giving this testimony, he was also in dealings with Stemberg and Goldman Sachs to take the company public. That is to say, a company of no worth, in Romney’s own words – he was about to carry the “dream” forward.

Staples went public through Goldman Sachs but three years after Romney’s initial capital investment. “Mitt Romney says he’s prouder of this [Staples] investment than any other.” (Mister PowerPoint Goes to Washington, Mathew Rees, December 1, 2006)

The issue here, if it is not already clear, is why a primary investor in a company that Romney was about to take public and of which he later says he is prouder than any other, he downplayed in a civil divorce case

As a witness for Tom Stemberg, Romney perhaps wanted to downplay the worth of Staples because if he did this then Maureen Sullivan-Stemberg stood to gain a whole lot less from Staples equity because Romney had just undervalued her ex-husband’s primary asset in a fifty/fifty state. If Staples is not worth very much, if the judge can be convinced of that, then how much can he award in terms of shares?

More, if monies and property are communal in a marriage, why wasn’t Staples split fifty-fifty and why was Romney testifying at all, other than the fact that Tom Stemberg, clearly one of Mitt Romney’s best friends and who recently said of Romney, “I have never met a better venture capitalist [than Mitt Romney]…I suspect he will be an equally good president.” (Mr. PowerPoint Goes to Washington, Wide Awakes, syndicated).

Clearly, the relationship between the two has not ended, and that’s fine: why shouldn’t they be friends. But Mitt Romney is running a bid for presidency on certain values and they are directly at odds with what some of what he has done, and certainly, what his best-friends who support him do. Now, since this article was began, Tom Stemberg has been named Romney’s campaign manager.

Let’s look first at Romney’s integrity in 1989 at the time of the Stemberg divorce when he was a major shareholder, the first investor, and a boardmember and as such, had, as with any corporation, if the stock was plummeting and in as bad a shape as Romney had said on the stand, why had he not informed shareholders, in particular, didn’t he inform major shareholders like Maureen Sullivan-Stemberg (regardless that they were divorcing his best friend, for that would be immoral to withhold, right?) who owned at the time approximately 180,000 shares.  

If Staples really was going under as Romney said and was not viable, like any corporate shareholder meeting that would be held, his role as the a primary investor and major shareholder would be to inform the shareholders, particularly large shareholders of the company’s future and how he did not “place a great deal of credibility in the forecast of the company’s future” (441, Appeals Court, No. 95-P-286, Norfolk County.” and that they were living a “dream” to use his word. (“and the dream went on…” (ibid) Romney apparently still has what Boston.com reported as a “distinct lack of authenticity.” (http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/01/07/romney_tries_to_rebound_on_record/)

That Romney in the Sullivan-Stemberg case and for Tom Stemberg, and get what you will from his testimony because to one day say the company is worth nothing, then take it public, make millions, then say it is his “proudest achievement” sounds a lot like flip-flopping which Romney has done on many issues, including abortion when he was pro-choice, pro-gay rights, and so on – he flip-flops, just as when he was nervous, he by some sources used to flip his tie back and forth. How apt.

In 1994 Romney was all for gay rights and gay marriage and unions, then he did an about face in 2003 and became the gate-keeper. Romney also claimed to have “few friends in the national rifle association” yet now he is all for bearing arms. As the clock tick-tocks, Romney flip-flops. He is like a flounder on the bottom of a boat, just reeled out of the water, unable to breathe in the oxygen and hence, in a panic and choking on his own words.  Once you reel Romney in, you see what his real views are, which frankly, are illusory and not real because he remains The Man Who Will Not Be Known.

But the Sullivan-Stemberg divore case is no joke and speaks yet more to Romeny’s integrity. Romney did a two-step cha-cha -  at best -  and all for the benefit of a friend (and likely himself) during a divorce case; only a court of law can decide whether or not he perjured himself and what he tells us now. If you did tell the truth then, are you telling the truth now, Mr. Romney? Or did you lie on the stand then about Staples and are now touting it’s great value as your “proudest achievement”. which is it  Mr. Romney, Mr. Stemberg? You can’t have it both ways.

For Tom Stemberg to say that the idea of founding Staples was his and his alone  and to reap all of the profit and gain is not only ufair, it reeks of sexism, but coming from a man who committed adultery more than once and impregnated another woman during an “affair” (call it what you will), this is hardly surprising. In fact, none of this is surprising. The only surprising part is that Mitt Romney – the man who Would Be President – is best-friends with Tom Stemberg, because Tom Stemberg is a lot of things, but family values he ain’t. No: he’s Mr. Romney’s Campaign Manager.

Romney did a good thing when he signed into law legislation creating universal health care coverage in the Massachusetts. It’s important because no other state had been able to do the same thing, although Europe has socialized medicine which is along the same lines, but the universal health care coverage bill is unique, but Romney may be sensitive to this, at least in part, because his wife Ann has an autoimmune disease – multiple sclerosis.

That said, there are, however, some interesting parallels between Mitt’s life, or Mitt’s wife anyway, and Tom’s ex-wife Maureen Sullivan-Stemberg; both have rare auto-immune diseases that are (thus far) incurable (Ann Romney has M.S., Maureen Sullivan Stemberg has – among myriad other health problems - and here one must note that Tom Stemberg tried at one point to cut off her health insurance entirely – Sullivan Stemberg has Systemic Lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system cannot differentiate between host and enemy and therefore attacks vital organs, such as the kidneys, liver, and so on, slowly attacking each organ. Lupus can eventually lead to lymphoma  with chemotherapy as a last and final resort.

Often there is  sister auto-immune disease that goes along with Lupus called Sjogrens Syndrom (pronounced show-grins) which, like systemic lupus, causes the body to attack vital organs, only  this time, they are different organs and sjogrens takes a different form and is often called sjogren’s vasculitis for it affects the blood vessels in the body causing painful neuropathy.

Like Ann’s or anyone else’s M.S., or an autoimmune disease, Maureen’s lupus is painful, flares and sparks and spits and flames when irritated by stress (perhaps having your health insurance taken away, only to have it given back the next day or week in a kind of game of cat and mouse that has been going on for years.)

But Ann is married to the ‘family man’ himself – she has no worries on this front and presents the role of the tireless campaigner who will Stand By Her Man, which is great and I would stand by mine, but certainly not if he were a hypocrite.


It’s great that Mitt’s bill would cover Sullivan-Stemberg’s healthcare, but would it afford the same level of care that she needs, for one, and secondly, his Campaign Manager sent a form for Sullivan Stemberg to sign that would have effectively, again, cut off her health benefits entirely.

This, among other things, makes one question Romney’s choices concerning whose company he keeps – for if this is his best-friend, or ‘wing-man’ as noted earlier, are we going to have the founder of Staples (who was fired from Staples, his own company) as such an integral part of our government. And Romney stands idly by while all of this happens. Or perhaps he has been snowed and doesn’t know: don’t hear, don’t see, don’t’ tell may be his policy on this rather personal issue. If that is the case, how we Romney treat us as individuals? He may speak a good game to an ‘audience’ and put on a great show, but what happens if he ever does get in office? The theory is that every man becomes no man. Or in this case, no woman.

Mitt, isn’t it time you spoke with your friend and fellow campaign manager about putting his own affairs in order before moving forward.




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Reader Comments (21)

This article is unbelievable. After reading this piece & all the facts back up by true doc's. I will be rethinking my vote for Mitt today.
I'm an individual who has made his fortune on Wall St. I am not at all surprise to hear about Tom Stemberg, I had dealing's with him in the past!! His ego is bigger than his own head. He is known as a bully.
Mitt is known for his ingerity, brilliance and most importantly fairness. Sadly, I along with many other people have been taken by him. He should, had handle this with honestly. After all, he WAS known as 'the family man.' No longer, great reporting!
February 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChip W.
I thought Mitt Romney adheres to moral & ethical principles. Sadly, it appears I was wrong. How could he ever preserve the integrity of our country? My faith in Mitt Romney,has greatly diminished. Now, who do we turn to? I have to agree with the previous comment...John McCain.

February 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChip W.
I am not shock at all by this article. This is a perfect example of what Mitt Romney has shown us all through the campaign. I am somewhat surprise that Romney would have a man such as Tom Stemberg, as his wing man. They are no 'odd couple' they are a pair from $$$$ --
What I am shocked by is what they did to this woman, Tom Stemberg's first wife & the one that according to Boston Papers "stood by her man"
when he was out of work for many years, before starting STAPLES, with the much need help of this first wife.

Fred Peterson
Boston, Mass, "MITT WE HARDLY KNEW YA"
February 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFred Peterson
This is just sad. The man who would be... and it seemed he did some good with the Olympics, but that's hardly the same as running a country. In several states, Huckabee now has the lead. Romney took Massachusetts, which is surprising and not surprising - given that this is a more liberal state it's shocking but he is also governor so it makes sense and his Campaign Manager is also MA based.

Nobody wants to believe ANY candidate is corrupt, and sure, all candidates are politicians with something up their sleeve - alas, so much seems inevitable, but with Mitt it seems he has more than most and more, given this recent reporting, he is a liar and possibly a law-breaker not to mention the flip-flopping on issues that we all know about anyway --

I'd say it's a shame, but instead i'll say it's McCain... he'll take the Republican vote, we can hope people are this smart and trust that.

As for me, my vote goes to Obama who ushers in real change.

For the record, Romney said something about how English should be the first language in schools and etc. when there are more Spanish-speaking people in New York City than there are English-speaking. And i wonder if he has noticed that pretty much anywhere you call, there is an option to speak in Spanish. Hell, i even know this from calling technical help at Verizon or my HEALTH INSURER BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD - you think with his big health bill and etc. he would know better - Ignorance is no excuse...

Laura Robinson, California.
February 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlaura r.
it matters that Mitt is a liar and less than ethical, but for this election, after this Tuesday, McCain has proven himself the lead of the republicans in this case, so it's a moot point. All told tho, I want to know more about the Staple's guy. How do you get fired from a company that you started? Did that really happen?
February 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterzeronine
We all enjoy a small moment of pleasure when we see a religious cultist taken to task. Of course, when it's Mitt Romney, the pleasure is more than just a moment's. Good luck in the remaining primaries, douche
February 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergf
This is a ridiculous article. Romney “I didn’t place a great deal of credibility in the forecast of the company’s future.” "Tom Stemberg spoke about the future as if it were today. Tom Stemberg minimized the risk and maximized the high probability of success."

Those are conservative statements from a conservative businessman. How in the world you get from there to perjury is ridiculous, Sadi.
October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAaron
I once had a love affair with a cardboard cutout of President Obama, so I may be biased, but this doesn't surprise me at all. This site is very credible and there is nothing out of context here. Considering the popularity of this site (everyone has heard of it most likely), and how many moderates and undecideds read it, this could mean lights out. I imagine there will be someone out there trying to bring up President Obama's past, but that just shows how scared they are. They wouldn't bring up an irrelevant part of President Obama's past unless they were certain they were about to lose. It's so sad. Thanks for the article, and here's to another four years of unity and prosperity!
October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRex
Well, the hope is that the innuendo and "implications" from this story will be enough to rile the Obama-leaning press into a frenzy and (hopefully) stop Mitt's clear momentum. In reality, all Romney did here was state that at the time he wasn't going to vouch for the assured success of Staples, in 1988. Later, in 1989 the company went public. Much like Facebook, sometimes the IPO predictions from one year don't pan out well into the next, for better or worse. This news is from 23 years ago, but at this point all Obama supporters must do everything they can to prevent what we all know is going to happen on November 6 unless SOMETHING can be done to stop Romney!
October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGloria A
I love the smell of desperate liberals in October. Patchouli, stale cigarettes, kitty litter, body odor and a good measure of rank piss.

Smells like...victory.
Is there proof that Romney intentionally undervalued the worth of these assets while at the same time trying to take the company public? If there is, Mr. Romney committed a crime. Lets see that proof.
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMrloserpunk
gf, I concur. I do forecasts all the time for my company. They are nothing more than a projection of an individuals vision for future profitability. Example: Back in Janary we projected $1.5M, we should come in at $1.7M. Was I lying back in January? Of course not, I was basing my forecast on the average growth of like businesses in our area. The important thing when forecasting is to not come in below forecast.

In May 1988 Staples had opened 16 stores, and the company's revenues had risen to $40 million. In its rapid Northeastern expansion, the company sought to lock up prime retail locations throughout the region so that competitors would have difficulty establishing their own stores. To support this rapid growth, Staples solicited three more rounds of financing from the investment banking community, raising a total of $32 million. This is the risk Romney would have been talking about.

$40M in revenue may sound like a lot, but you still need to subtract expenses and fees. Revenue is a crucial part of financial statement analysis. A company’s performance is measured to the extent to which its asset inflows (revenues) compare with its asset outflows (expenses). Net Income is the result of this equation. We do not know the net income of Staples based on the revenues.

It sounds like a combination of risk in 1988 and going public is what made the company into what it is today. This hardly implies Romney committed perjury.
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterantann
antann, you may want to verify if your your response is in reference to comments by Aaron or gf.
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMJ
Anybody that would even consider voting for obama at this point has to be completely fucking retarded.
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjim
Amusing that the article questions Romney's choice of friends, while we all now know about Obama's long time relationship with avowed domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. No one in the news media chooses to find fault with that relationship, but Romney having a friend in the business world is downright criminal. Please!- One important fact that the original article neglects to point out was that the first ex-wife received shares of Staples in her divorce settlement worth 14 million dollars! Plus child support, alimony, a residence, etc. - Undervalued company?
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJER
This article has been completely debunked by those who really know the full court testimony and details.
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMS
Wow... this is a real stretcher. MR didn't request to testify. He complied w/ a court order. There are loads of innuendos about his actions in this case, along with piles of irrelevant ad hominem attacks... and no proof of anything.

Having worked with start ups before, this early into the venture, especially in an innovative but unproven business model, all bets are off. Sounds like they'd taken on a lot of debt and it was a risky proposition.

If this is all Axelrod and Alred have, they're scraping the bottom of the barrel. However, that's how Obama got his Senate seat in the first place: he got rivals divorce docs unsealed. It was a shameful act then, and it sounds like Team 0 is going for the same tactics... except this is about Romney's testimony. Geez. Get a life people. And get used to saying 'President Romney'!
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersak
"...his role as the a primary investor and major shareholder would be to inform the shareholders, particularly large shareholders of the company’s future..." Someone who displays such an abysmal ignorance of business should not be writing articles about it. Since when is it an investor's "role" to inform other shareholders of his opinion? An opinion is an opinion; the facts were out there for the other shareholders to draw their own conclusions. And anyone who knows business will tell you that fortunes can change by the quarter, particularly when you take on significant expansion and debt. If you are determined to smear Romney, at least make it about something you have a smidgeon of knowledge. about.
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreg
If Romney says the shares are worth less than it appears, it does not effect the settlement of a fifty-fifty estate, if the wife gets half the shares. Worth 100 or 500, it makes no difference - she gets half. Now if she is awarded other stuff instead of shares it would make a difference.

But - unlisted share are illiquid and therefore worth less than when the company has gone publc, so the fact that the company later went public means nothing.If you fear you have paid too much, of course you want to go public.

And - of course, when valuing shares, you pay little attention to the CEOs forecasts of the future. They are always prone to being too bullish.

So, as for the content of this article, there is nothing scandalous or inconsistent at all!
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHmmm
Only just realized this thread started in 2008! But it looks suspiciously like this is what Gloria All-Red is trying to dredge up again.

What I don't understand is why a judge would even consider unsealing divorce records for political reasons. Don't these people have a right to privacy?

I guess Obama thinks that if it worked with Jack Ryan, it will work again. Can't win fairly, let's fight dirty!
October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreg
Further information seems to show that the ex-wife of the Staples CEO has her nose out of joint because she decided to sell half her shares two years before the company went public and the shares were worth much more after that. She is blaming her decision to sell on Romney's "evaluation" of the company and evidently feels it is his fault that she missed out on a windfall. Sorry lady, Romney wasn't twisting your arm or coercing you to sell. It was your own misguided decision. She has been taking her ex-husband to court over the course of 25 years since their divorce, and it seems she blew a good chunk of her 14 million on lawyers fees. She will probably hold a grudge, due to her notion of being wronged, forever.

If she was successful in preventing Romney from being elected, her joy would be boundless. That is evident from her vitriolic posts on several social web sites and The Huffington Post. She has been waging an on-line crusade against the Romney's since before he ran against McCain.
October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJER

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