Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that Mitt Romney was a key player in Bain Capital's decision to invest in Stericycle, a company that disposes of medical waste, including aborted fetuses and the bodies of animals used for medical testing. Stericycle is a favorite target of pro-life protesters, prompting boycotts related to their operations as recently as this February.
Bain Capital previously denied that Romney was involved in the Stericycle investment, according to Mother Jones:
Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate's reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.
But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission-and obtained by Mother Jones-list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents-one of which was signed by Romney-also contradict the official account of Romney's exit from Bain.
Exactly HOW those fetuses were sometimes disposed of, and why it'll turn conservative activists' stomachs, after the jump.
Stericycle describes its services in appropriately vague and sanitized terms on its own website, but various other sources paint a clearer picture. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for instance, hires Stericycle to incinerate animal carcasses following their use for various forms of medical research. Even more disturbingly, Stericycle was fined by the state of Texas for dumping aborted fetuses in a landfill, in violation of state codes. Specifically, Stericycle:
Failed to dispose of pathological waste according to approved methods of treatment and disposition, in violation of 30 TEx. ADMIN. CODE § 33o.1219Q,)(3), as documented during an investigation conducted on May 12, 2011. Specifically, the Respondent allowed pathological waste, including fetuses, to be treated by steam disinfection treatment followed by deposition in a municipal solid waste landfill.
So, Romney's signature is on documents relating to Bain Capital's investment in a company that dumps aborted fetuses in municipal solid waste landfills. At the time, Romney was more sympathetic toward pro-choice views than he is now that he's running for President at a time when there's a "War on Women" going on around the country. Occam's Razor dictates that the most acceptable explanation is the obvious one: Romney, tasked with making as much money as possible for Bain Capital, signed off on an investment that he viewed as potentially lucrative and morally acceptable.
The question is, will socially conservative voters see it that way when Romney makes his campaign stops, ostensibly as a pro-life candidate, this fall? Or will it strike a sour note with pro-life activists to see the GOP nominee touch down in their hometowns to stump for his campaign, when they've seen Stericycle trucks stop at the very clinics they picket? Let's be clear: Bain Capital helped Stericyle make a whole lot of money. Bain made a lot of money on the deal. And Romney could have called it off:
Another SEC document filed November 30, 1999, by Stericycle also names Romney as an individual who holds "voting and dispositive power" with respect to the stock owned by Bain. If Romney had fully retired from the private equity firm he founded, why would he be the only Bain executive named as the person in control of this large amount of Stericycle stock?
I don't have a problem with a privately held capital firm investing in a business that does the the necessary dirty work of disposing of medical waste. However, pro-life voters who use abortion opposition as a litmus test almost certainly will be troubled by Romney's decision to continue Bain's investment in a company that trashes human fetuses is municipal landfills.
As for voters who don't use abortion as a litmus test, there's the little matter of Stericycle's safety record and its unfortunate habit of spreading lethal diseases around:
In 1991, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited its Arkansas operation for 11 workplace safety violations. The facility had not provided employees with sufficient protective gear, and it had kept body parts, fetuses, and dead experimental animals in unmarked storage containers, placing workers at risk. In 1995, Stericycle was fined $3.3 million-later decreased to $800,000-by Rhode Island for knowingly exposing workers to life-threatening diseases at its medical-waste treatment facility in Woonsocket. Two years later, workers at another of its medical-waste processing plants in Morton, Washington, were exposed to tuberculosis. In 2002 and 2003-after Bain and its partners had bought their major interest in the firm-Stericycle reached settlements with the attorneys general in Arizona and Utah after it was accused of violating antitrust laws. It paid Arizona $320,000 in civil penalties and lawyers' fees, and paid Utah $580,000.
We all know that Romney was okay with abortion before he was against it, but conservative values voters should ask him why he let Bain lie about his involvement in the Stericycle deal, and how he feels about his role in generating big profits for a company known to place human fetal remains in landfills alongside household and industrial trash. Even as a pro-choice activist myself, I don't feel that's a fitting end for something that once had the potential for human life. Stericycle itself provides a more respectful disposal method for animal carcasses.