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…
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.