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. BBear

    So, technically the contents of the ad are true?

    August 10, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Aaron

    Interesting that CNN has yet to run the story stating that Reid has totally backtracked on his accusations of Romney since h fabricated facts about his supposed "source", and even the White House has begun to distance itself from the claim.

    August 10, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  3. jerry

    so whats new? About every time obama opens his big foul mouth its a lie or manipulation....he needs to home clean with his passport records, birth records, medical records, and academic records.... we know he went to Occidental on a scholarship he could have only gotten if he were not a US citizen....and that is just the beginning of the cover up and fraud. You must ask yourself why would he cover up all this information....answer: he knows he would not be a viable presidential candidate.

    August 10, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. T

    Wait, wait, wait...its a low blow because well...a lot of folks took advantage of that completely unethical bullcrap, not just Mitt? And while the man was was on the board, (they have influene right?) the ad doesn't clearly state that poor Willie was just one of many bright, bushy-eyed go-getters *cough* greedy corporate shills sitting around in comfy air conditioned pine-fresh conference rooms cooking up schemes to divert funds that would help employ teachers and firefighters into their – totally legal(tm) – offshore accounts. Good job, factcheck. Maybe they meant "low" as in, only those with "low IQ" will buy that ad as being deceptive, and "blow" as in partisan spin blows.

    August 10, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. Karm99

    The one thing I have learned in this campaign is the so called Fact checkers are garbage. Regardless of the candidate.

    We are smart enough to determine facts, intention, and affect, without these bogus fact checkers.

    These fact checkers will go the way of the Dodo bird.

    August 10, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. Bootstomper

    Getting hot enough for you Willard?

    August 10, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. TKO

    Factcheck is losing credibility fast by seemingly defending someone (Romney) who is deceitful to his core.

    August 10, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  8. Pete

    Romney was an advisor for Marriott at the the time of the "Son of Boss"tax scam in the "90s.Marriott went to Romney for tax advise as it was recorded in other written papers.So don't let this Fact Check deal sway you,Romneys lied before and he's getting caught more often now.This is a campaign that may hurt Romney permanently in the business world as well politically,he may have to go into hiding when Pres.Obamas done with him,its a big dogs world out there and wealthy bullies just might get bit!!

    August 10, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  9. CBR

    Fact check people have their work cut out for them. The PACS do not care to check facts. They just move right ahead and make their commercials. Get some of the ads and watch them. You will find that both sides are not checking all their facts. Mr. Romney does seem to let things bother him. His people will keep the heat on the Democrats. In fact, it would be delightful to have a week without these commercials. Yes they are commercials – they are selling the man.

    August 10, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  10. steven harnack

    They are calling it out over what they think that it "implies"? If Romney wasn't the only one involved does that make it less sleezy? Compared to the outright lies that the GOP has been peddling for the last 5 years this just falls into the catagory "doesn't state the full story", and isn't it up to the voters to inform themselves?

    August 10, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. Pedro

    LOL... pathetic. Mitt Romney was in fact on the Marriott Board and was the head of audits when they ran this scheme. There's nothing inaccurate in the ad at all. The FactCheck people need to educate themselves on this topic, it was kind of sad to see how poor their understanding of this tax scheme is

    August 10, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  12. Norma Vessels

    I beginning to wonder if these Fact Check groups are on the up and up. We need honest people to do the Fact Checks, but that may be impossible, since most everyone in the whole world has their own opinions about people and things, and it's almost impossible to not put their own opinion into it.

    August 10, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  13. Cam Spurgeon

    CNN sure spends a lot of time defending Romney when all he has to do is show his taxes...I believe the experts who wrote the article not biased CNN so called fact checkers. Was he on the Board for many years while they did it. Does it make Mariott clean because other greedy corporations did it? Show us the taxes. It is the ethics we are taLKING ABOUT. cMON cnn GET A GRIP AND AT LEAST TALK BOTH SIDES OR SELL YOURSELF TO mURDOCH.

    August 10, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    I'll be interested to see what PolitiFact has to say; also, online CPA industry websites.

    August 10, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  15. hammer

    Facts who cares about facts.The man has said over and over he is not putting out his back taxes quit acting like its breaking news.If you don't like it don't vote for him.Its that simple!Lets talk about Afghanistan troops are still being killed!

    August 10, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  16. once upon a horse

    funny when FactCheck.org calls out a Republican on ads or such the right wingers claim it's a left leading organization like some did when they called Mitt on the welfare ad. So now I guess it's a great organization because it's calling out an Obama ad right?

    August 10, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  17. quinLee

    I noticed this article never clearly mentions the fact that Mr. Romney was on the Marriott board when the company repeatedly used complex tax-avoidance maneuvers, including one tax shelter that was ultimately knocked down in court. During those years, Mr. Romney was HEAD of the audit committee for the company.
    This bit of information seems relevant to me.

    August 10, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  18. Ray E. (Georgia)

    There is no doubt the Liberals want to get as much of your money as they can get. SO, if you are rolling in the dough send it to Obama. There is no doubt if Romney skipped on some of his taxes the IRS would be on it post haste.

    The nearly 16 Trillion Dollar Federal Debt is a fact however. So Fact Check that. And soon you may be out of Aces as well as deuces.

    August 10, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  19. bob

    This is no longer a presidential race. It is a contest to see who can find the lowest road to the White House. So far, Obama seems to be winning. I suppose congratulations are in order.

    August 10, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  20. Ed1

    Your tax dollars at work.

    On TV, the Colorado Springs police chief begged Obama not to come as he had no resources to protect him, and didn't need the extra burden ....but Obama came here anyway..
    Read this.
    Colorado Springs ..…they had to suspend flights of the fire fighting tankers because the big O came to town.
    No air traffic could be in his vicinity, so the firefighting planes had to stop. The big O (zero) spent hundreds of thosands of taxpayers money to fly across the country in Air Force One to Colorado to make a campaign stop in the middle of a tremendous fire, thereby totally disrupting all the firefighting and police efforts, and causing millions more in fire damage to forestsand homes.. and peoples lives.. all just to make himself look more prominent in the news. This is what we have for a President of our country now folks.
    He sure has the best interests of Americans at heart does'nt he! We got "change" alright !

    August 10, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  21. NativeUSA

    Dirtiest politician in history Obama.............PinocchiObama and his Obamaloney.

    August 10, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  22. The Elephant In The Room

    It`s not a low blow, it`s a HARD BLOW and I have no problem with it.

    What IS LOW is the way that the GOP is trying to STACK THE DECK in Ohio by EXTENDING voting hours in Republican-leaning precints and REDUCING them in Democratic-leaning districts.

    August 10, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  23. NativeUSA

    There has never NEVER in the history of the Presidency been a dirtier less honest racist president than Barrak HUSSEIN Obama......right out of a Chicago sewer is how he does his politics.

    August 10, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  24. The Other Dale

    So, somehow, FactCheck.org is saying that Romney "was involved" but "wasn't involved" and even if he was "everyone else was doing it too." This is like saying "That guy gave everyone the plague, but it was the GOOD kind of plague and besides it's going around anyway so it's okay."

    Thanks, FactCheck.Org, your meaningless research has wasted everyone's time.

    August 10, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  25. george of the jungle

    how does mitt get his horse written off as medical??? Show us your tax returns mitt. Forward 2012

    August 10, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
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