FactCheck.org calls 'low blow' new Obama 'Son of Boss' attack ad
August 10th, 2012
05:35 PM ET
2 years ago

FactCheck.org calls 'low blow' new Obama 'Son of Boss' attack ad

(CNN) – An independent fact-checking group, FactCheck.org, claimed Friday that a new Obama campaign ad attacking Mitt Romney over a tax avoidance scandal is "badly misleading."

"The Obama campaign strikes another low blow with a TV spot accusing Mitt Romney of 'personally' approving a notoriously abusive tax-avoidance scheme and suggesting he may have paid 'zero' tax," the FactCheck.org article states. "That's badly misleading."

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The spot, released Thursday by the president's re-election campaign, points to an op-ed by two tax experts who claim Romney was involved with the reporting of a $70 million fictional tax loss when he served on the board of Marriott International from 1993 to 1998.

"During that period, Marriott engaged in a series of complex and high-profile maneuvers, including 'Son of Boss,' a notoriously abusive prepackaged tax shelter that investment banks and accounting firms marketed to corporations such as Marriott," states the op-ed, which was published this week on CNN.com.

The authors –Peter C. Canellos, former chair of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section, and Edward D. Kleinbard, former chief of staff of Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation–wrote that the "Son of Boss" tax shelter marked "perhaps the largest tax avoidance scheme in history" and cost the U.S. "billions in lost corporate tax revenues."

While Romney did not face criminal charges, unlike others linked to the scandal, the authors wrote "his endorsement of this stratagem provides insight into Romney's professional ethics and attitude toward tax compliance obligations."

But FactCheck.org said Friday that Marriott wasn't the only company involved in the "Son of Boss" scheme.

"Viewers (of the ad) may get the mistaken impression that Romney – actually Marriott – is solely to blame for 'one of the largest tax avoidance schemes in history.' Not true. It was a strategy used by many taxpayers that resulted in billions in lost revenue," the article states.

The Obama ad also doesn't give context about Marriott, FactCheck said, and leads the viewer to believe it was Romney who personally handled the deal.

"The tax scheme didn't benefit Romney, and the fictional losses were not his," FactCheck says. "The company involved was Marriott Corp, not Romney or Bain Capital. But the ad gives no hint of this."

Furthermore, the website states that the term "tax avoidance" is technically legal, a distinction not easily communicated in the new spot.

"Combining 'avoidance' with loaded terms like 'scheme' and 'notorious' and 'scandal' and 'fictional losses' further suggests possible tax fraud, but there's no evidence Romney broke any law," the article states.

The spot comes at a time when top Democrats and Obama's campaign have actively worked to raise suspicion about Romney's tax history. They've unleashed a flood of calls urging the presumptive GOP nominee to release more tax returns as a way to answer questions about his financial portfolio.

The Republican candidate, whose estimated worth is valued up to $256 million, has made public his tax return for 2010 and an estimate for 2011, with a pledge to release the full year once the documents are complete. He filed an extension for October.

While Romney says he will not release further taxes than what he has already made public, a majority of Americans disagree with his decision. According to a CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday, 63% of Americans said Romney should release additional tax returns.


Filed under: 2012 • Ads • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Fact check.org is not a fact checking organization, but Mittens does need their help.

    August 10, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. Vic of New York

    Odd.... Fact Check.org doesn't always get its own facts straight – less alone calling out a Democratic add no less deceptive than the Romney camp is guilty of.

    August 10, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    "The Obama campaign strikes another low blow with a TV spot..."
    "That's badly misleading."
    ================================================
    Obama lied to get into all those colleges. He lied to get elected in 2008 and he's been lying to the American people on a daily basis. Why should ANYBODY expect Obama to stop lying NOW???

    The guy is a sleazy dirtbag union thug from Chicago. This is what you elected in 2008 America. Thought you were getting Hope & Change huh? Well you'd better speak to your stupid kids before they vote for this dolt again and completely destroy their future.

    August 10, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  4. Jackhammer3853

    This is just another bogus accusation leveled against the Pres.
    and no matter how fair anything is in life, its not going to be
    fair the way the "Dirty Lyin SOB Repub./Teabaggas will want it.
    let's face it, they have alot of money for their smears, but no money
    can silence folks like me who will fight till the bitter end for the Obama
    Presidency!! Count On It!!

    August 10, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  5. Mike

    It doesn't matter that Marriott was not alone or that Romney did not benefit personally from the effort or that he did nothing illegal. As a member of the Marriott Board, Romney had a fiduciary responsibility to guide the company to run its business ethically and legally. The authors of the article hit the nail on the head – it's an insight into Romney's own ethical code and his beliefs about the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law.

    August 10, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  6. nitro

    Wheather he was the only one or there were other companies doing it to was he involved with the Marriott scandle? So stop trying fake like it was a low blow was he involved.

    August 10, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  7. matt

    More lies form the Obamaloney camp. Typical!

    August 10, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  8. Maxx

    :The tax scheme didn't benefit Romney, and the fictional losses were not his," FactCheck says. "The company involved was Marriott Corp, not Romney or Bain Capital. But the ad gives no hint of this."

    He was on Marriott's board, somehow I think Mitt might have benefited. Being a board member makes him part of the Marriott corporation so apparently FactCheck can't even get basic facts correct. Mitt will probably retire retroactively from the board to escape any responsibility.

    August 10, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  9. Deb in MT

    This could all be settled so easily, if Romney would just release his tax returns for 10-12 years, like his daddy did when he ran for POTUS (he set the standard, in fact).

    And, yes, both Factcheck.org and Politifact are playing rather loose with the facts these days.

    August 10, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  10. Jon

    Wow ... even when Factcheck.org calls Obama on the carpet for being badly misleading ... the little Obama drons and paid liberal bloggers still attempt to spin it as good.

    OBAMA talk about the economy ... that is what matters talk about jobs ... that is what matters ... if you dont like what Romney does with his taxes, change the tax code.

    As far as I am concerned, if you know the system is broken and you dont fix it, you must like the system to be broken, or it really isn't broken and you just want to pretend like it is.

    August 10, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  11. Tk

    Everything coming out the Obama campaign is a lie. This has been proven regurarly. Only 95% of what comes out of Obamas mouth is a lie.

    August 10, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  12. edog

    Wow! No media or fact check organization called OUT Mitt for his misleading ads... Looks like the media is trying to even the race after a few bad national polls for Romney. After all, ratings must be kept high and who will follow a race when it is all over by August.

    Shame!!

    August 10, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    As for fact checking, FactCheck is "Mostly False."

    August 10, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  14. love344@tiscali.it

    oh boy.. here is the bias

    August 10, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. Valentina

    Obama and his minions are bunch of sick mind-twisted criminals who will do anything to get Obama re-elected again. This is the ugliest campaign in the history and Obama should be ashamed of himself – he is making the entire Democrat Party look really bad.

    August 10, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. love344@tiscali.it

    mitts tell blatant lies an no fact check

    August 10, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  17. PJ

    So Romney sat on the Board of Directors for "the company that was involved", being Marriott. and knew nothing?
    Riiiiiiiiight!
    Oh well, "it was a strategy used by many taxpayers that resulted in billions lost", so that makes it okie dokie.
    You bet he didn't lose anything, so why worry about those who did?

    August 10, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  18. CryBabies

    Libs will deny this (just as the two previous blogs are) but it just solidifys how crooked Axelrod and Cutter and the whole Obama team is. Obama does not deserve his job for many reasons including these misconceptions and distortions he allows to be put out there. Lets focus on the economy Mr. Obama. And i agree there needs to be transparency. Romney should give up 10 years of tax returns in exchange for Obamas sealed college applications and trascripts. Why did he pay $1,000,000.00+ to keep that information away from the American people? That begs the question whos really hiding something?

    August 10, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Yet again, factcheck.org stretches to come up with whatever the most attenuated interpretation of the claims might be in order to find fault. I wouldn't have thought that Marriot was the only one involved from watching the ad. Know why? Because it's freekin clear as day that it was a widespread scheme. Factcheck.org needs to come back to ground and start thinking more along the lines drawn by Occam's Razor.

    "Combining 'avoidance' with loaded terms like 'scheme' and 'notorious' and 'scandal' and 'fictional losses' further suggests possible tax fraud, but there's no evidence Romney broke any law," the article states."

    Awwwww, boohooo. Mittens came out wih an ad today that accuses Obama's CAMPAIGN of raising money for the Soptic ad that was produced BY A PAC. That's an undeniable AND 100% UNSUPPORTABLE accusation of a federal felony. WHERE WAS FACTCHECK.ORG ON THAT CLAIM?

    August 10, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. will never vote Republician again

    So Romney goes to visit an Iowa farmer... This farmer is part of the elite 1%! He chooses to visit this guy! It's like he's afraid he'll get cooties from the 99%

    August 10, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  21. steven

    Good job, Fact Check, too bad few people will pay attention. Lies by obama and his team are a normal practice, and his followers care little for the truth, or the health of our country.

    August 10, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  22. Larry L

    If Romney had something terrible to hide on his missing tax returns, something proving him to be a greedy, tax cheating liar, wouldn't conservatives want to know that information? Conversely, if Romney was squeaky clean and could release those returns to make Harry Reid look like a lying weasel... wouldn't conservatives want that to happen? So why would conservatives allow him to continue hiding the truth?

    August 10, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  23. gt

    more chi town thugs doing the bidding of the worest president ever....

    August 10, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  24. DarqueSide

    Romney was on the board of Marriott. He was part of their financial decision-making strategy! It's indicative of his character and I think it's a valid point to raise.

    August 10, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  25. American

    The key words from analysis appears to be "may" & "impression," which is not definitive.

    Romney could clear it up by releasing his tax returns. Why is he hiding?

    August 10, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
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