The U.S. Department of Justice has been asked to investigate whether federal law was violated when Presidential candidate Mitt Romney signed his federal disclosure statement in 2011.
MoveOn.org, a partisan liberal organization, has filed a request with the U.S. Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section to investigate whether Romney violated federal law with claims made on his 2011 federal financial disclosure statement.
The False Statements Act (18 USC § 1001 - Statements or entries generally) of the United States Code states:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.
In his Executive Branch Personnel PUBLIC FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE REPORT filed and signed by Romeny on August 12, 2011, it states:
"Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way."
Upon signing the form, Romney is stating:
I CERTIFY that the statements I have made on this form and all attached schedules are true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge.
However, a Securities and Exchange (SEC) document filed on July 14, 2000 states:
Bain Capital Investors VI, Inc., a Delaware corporation ("Bain Investors VI"), is the sole general partner of Bain Partners VI. Mr. W. Mitt Romney is the sole shareholder, sole director, Chief Executive Officer and President of Bain Investors VI and thus is the controlling person of Bain Investors VI.
Bain Capital, Inc., a Delaware corporation ("Bain Capital"), is the sole managing partner of the BCIP entities. Mr. W. Mitt Romney is the sole shareholder, sole director, Chief Executive Officer and President of Bain Capital and thus is the controlling person of Bain Capital.
On a separate SEC filing on October 20, 2000, Romney is again listed as the sole shareholder, director, CEO and President of Bain, and is listed Chief Executive Officer, President and Managing Director under a listing of executive officers. The same holds true for a February 11, 2001 filing.
The MoveOn.org request states: The purpose of requiring candidates to file a personal financial disclosure form, under the Ethics in Government Act, is to ensure that the electorate is fully informed about the financial interests and fiduciary and other positions of the candidates. For a candidate to make misrepresentations on that form is not only a federal crime but a serious breach of the public trust.Forbes magazine interviewed a retired SEC commissioner, who is a registered Republican, who stated the False Statement Act rule may not apply since it governs trading instead of limited partner interests. He did say however that the INVESTMENT ADVISERS ACT OF 1940 would be a more "relevant law" and could be applicable.
In an interview on CNN's State of the Union on July 15, 2012, Romney spokesman Ed Gillespie stated: "You know, Governor Romney took a leave of absence from his company to go save the Olympics.
You know, there may have been thought at the time that he could be part time. It was not part time. The Olympics was in a shambles. There was corruption. There was -- the International Olympic Committee was going to pull the Olympics from the United States of America which would have been a huge embarrassment. Because of Mitt Romney's leadership skills he was called on to do it.
He took a leave of absence and, in fact, Candy, he ended up not going back at all and retired retroactively to February of 1999 as a result."
Gillespie was responding to an Obama campaign ad linking Romney and Bain to layoffs and company closures. It is unclear as to whether the same argument can be made with regard to SEC and Federal Disclosure Form signings. According to a Boston Globe report, Romney did exercise ultimate responsibility and authority by signing forms attesting to being the "controlling person of Bain", which is in direct opposition to the statement he signed stating he has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.
Ryan Williams, a Romney campaign spokesman, told the Boston Globe that the standard to prove a felony under the False Statements Act is that a person knew the statement was false. A message sent to the Romney campaign on Friday requesting clarification of WIlliams' statement, and asking whether Williams was saying Romney did not understand either the SEC documents or the Federal Disclosure form he signed, went unanswered.