5 Things You Need to Know About Mitt Romney's Shady Investments Before Election Day
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Mitt Romney is not only one of the wealthiest presidential candidates in history, his finances are by far the most opaque. In April, the Washington Post reported that Romney “has taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings.”
By offering a limited description of his assets, Romney has made it difficult to know precisely where his money is invested, whether it is offshore or in controversial companies, or whether those holdings could affect his policies or present any conflicts of interest.
This is no accident. From what we do know, Romney has – or has recently had – some highly controversial investments in his extensive portfolio.
The New York Times reported that Romney was invested in China's state-owned gas company and a Chinese bank, even as he was calling out China's “unfair” trading practices on the campaign trail.
His trust “also invested in derivative securities linked to the Japanese stock market and to an index that includes stocks in every major country except the United States. It invested in a derivative that would profit if the dollar fell against a group of foreign currencies,” according to the Times.
While he calls Russia our “number one geostrategic foe,” he also invested in the politically influential Russian state oil company, Gazprom. Gazprom is one of Russia's "national champion" companies, which are expected not only to turn a profit but also to advance the country's national interests. It has long been seen as Vladimir Putin's "premier instrument of power," according to Foreign Affairs.
Andrew Kaczynski at Buzzfeed reported that while “Romney has often used Chinese piracy and intellectual property theft as an issue while attacking President Obama on China,” he had invested in “Youku, a Chinese version of YouTube” that “became a haven for downloading illegal American content.” He also invested in a Bain fund with a major stake in GOME, a Chinese electronics company that, according to the Boston Globe, “is being sued by Microsoft Corp. for selling computers with pirated versions of its Windows and Office software.”
A Bain Capital fund in which Romney was invested also stood to gain from Chinese political suppression. According to the New York Times, Bain “purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company that claims to be the largest supplier to the government’s Safe Cities program, a highly advanced monitoring system that allows the authorities to watch over university campuses, hospitals, mosques and movie theaters from centralized command posts.” The firm's “previous projects have included an emergency command center in Tibet that 'provides a solid foundation for the maintenance of social stability and the protection of people’s peaceful life,'” according to the company's website.
These investments are contradictory to many of Romney's stated values, and should be politically damaging – along with the shadowy network of “investment entities” in offshore tax havens – but they have had very limited impact on the race. That's because the campaign has answered each and every question about these shady deals with the same response: that Mitt and Ann Romney's fortunes are in independently administered blind trusts, and they have no clue whatsoever where their loot is invested, much less any influence over how their portfolios are managed. It's an answer that, by and large, the political press has accepted.
But here is the problem: Mitt and Ann Romney do not have blind trusts, and this fact is not in dispute. It was reported last year by the very same mainstream political media that now blithely accepts the Romney-Ryan campaign's claims that the candidate is not responsible for any controversies that might arise from his holdings.