May 25th, 2012
04:01 PM ET
10 years ago

Bain employees may have paid for TV ads bashing the company

Washington (CNN) – The Obama ads about Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mitt Romney used to run, are harsh.

"They closed it down. They filed for bankruptcy," said a somber former employee of GST steel in a recent Obama campaign ad.

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"They're like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us," said another worker testimonial.

The irony is that some of the money to pay for these Obama television ads may have come from inside the very company team Obama is demonizing: Bain Capital.

It turns out employees of Bain Capital have given $124,900 in donations to the Obama campaign this election cycle.

Three of those Bain Capital donors – Mark Nunnelly, Stephen Pagluica and Jonathan Lavine – have given $35,800, the maximum amount allowed by law, to President Barack Obama's re-election efforts.

In the case of Lavine – he didn't just write his own check to the president – he's a bundler, someone who also helps the Obama campaign raise money from others.

$124,900 is a good chunk of change from people who work at a company the Obama campaign and its allies, like pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA, vilify.

"Bain Capital always made money. If we lost, they made money. If we survived they made money. It's as simple as that," said a man standing outside a closed plant, in a Priorities USA television ad.

All of the nearly $125,000 in donations to the Obama campaign from Bain Capital employees were made in 2011 – well before the president's team started accusing Romney of killing jobs while at the venture capital firm.

Still, the Obama campaign told CNN they do not intend to return any campaign cash from Bain Capital employees.

"No one aside from Mitt Romney is running for president highlighting their tenure as a corporate buyout specialist as one of job creation, when in fact, his goal was profit maximization," Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told CNN.

But it begs the question: isn't it hypocritical for the president to keep campaign cash from employees of a company his campaign goes after as job killers?

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz answered that question this way: "Accepting a contribution from a particular person involved in venture capital and criticizing Mitt Romney who has made his record as a venture capitalist at Bain the essential focus of his credibility and qualification for being president are completely different things."

CNN put calls into the Bain Capital employees who donated to the president to ask if they will demand their money back. The calls were not returned.

However, a spokesman for Bain Capital said, "We are not a political organization and take no position on any candidate."

"We celebrate the fact that our employees are active in civic affairs and philanthropy across a range of organizations with various policy and political views," said Bain Capital spokesman Alex Stanton.

- CNN's Adam Levy contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Fundraising • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Kris Craig

    Wow, so even Bain's own employees think they suck....

    May 25, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Sandy

    Isn't that what we want? Someone who will take donations, but will do the right thing for all and not be beholden to just the rich people who donate? Besides the President is questioning whether Romney's experience at Bain qualifies him to be President. He is not demonizing Bain the company, just Romney for claiming that he created jobs while at Bain.

    May 25, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    Cry me a whiny river, CNN. I've donated to many candidates who have on many occasions not only voiced an opinion I have disagreed with but also voted for legislation I disagreed with. Never once would I ask for my money back.

    America has become nothing but whine-city. There will be no miracles no matter who becomes our next president. I just happen to think Barack is better suited than the whiny toad "I'm better than most Americans" Mitt Romney.

    May 25, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    Bain ship jobs to china. Show me single stuff made in USA.... Nasty GOP thugs.

    May 25, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. Karl

    Unreal! What a joke BAIN has become.

    May 25, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. cwj

    Dear CNN,
    Do you have editors?
    Do they know what "begging the question" means?

    PS Did someone from the RNC buy you lunch today?

    May 25, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Milton K. Wiah

    The truth is clear. Had Mitt Romney served the company well as he claimed he did, no one from the same
    company could have involved in any ads of the Obama campaign to bash Romney about bad practices
    of the company when he took over. It means he did not do a good job in the company to the extend that
    the very company he once spearheaded donated money to Obama.

    May 25, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Tyrone

    Its an Absolute FACT that Bain fired people when found out they Werent Lds. FACT, Its also a FACT that Romney gives Bain Stock to the Mormon Church Assets of 66 BILLION, let me sat that again, 66 BILLION. The Friday Story that doesnt go away Monday. Bain & The Lds Cult are 1 in the SAME.

    May 25, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    No one is condemning Bain, it was Mittens' claim that he created jobs, and that was the lie. Bain is supposed to make money for their investors.

    May 25, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Guess that even some parasites have a conscience...

    May 25, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. jesse james. take them to street and shoot them like the dogs they are


    May 25, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Or maybe they know Romney better than most and think he would make an awful president... They can donate to whomever they choose, no?

    May 25, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. vic , nashville ,tn

    Good news,
    Obama campaign staffs are really smart

    May 25, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. macrasta

    @Sandy ...thanks for making sense!

    May 25, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  15. Silence DoGood

    Hypocrisy, ethics, civility – all those will go out the window when Obama and Romney get their surrogates fired up.

    Seeing how Romney is already getting lots of action from his SuperPAC friends and remembering Obama's nasty surrogates from 2008, I think we are in for a hate-filled campaign.

    Vote 3rd Party!

    May 25, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. C. K. Justus

    I think it shows how admant the employees who have experienced the closing of a company that they had worked at for years who are upset that Bain did not upgrade the company instead of sucking the life blood out of it and then selling off the pieces for more profit.
    When the employees who have experienced the most damage come out and support the defeat of Romney, I think it shows just how ruthless he was to make money regardles of who he hurt.

    May 25, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    How dare any company that I work for tell me I must be a Republican or a Democrat and tell me how, who and where I spend my earned income. In fact, they have no right to ask me my political preference.

    May 25, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. normajean @ verizon ,com

    There are a large number of that attempt tp increase the value of Romney at the time he was with BAIN......but if you want the real truth about how they all operated there is nothing more telling than the interviews with ex employees.......they tell it like it really was with nothing to gain by their statements except telling the truth...The stories we hear from the other side have a different motive, of course.!

    May 25, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. litalind

    I think CNN is sopporting Ronmey for Presidente, specially Dana Bash, John King and others. They can not hide it. Sorry for the prestige of CNN..

    May 25, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. Sirned

    Good. And even better to use the devils money to defeat the devil.....

    May 25, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  21. DP in CA

    To Tyrone,

    You're a total idiot to try and link Romney with the LDS church's investments. If you want to start talking church investment's, I am sure you could link many people to the Catholic church as well. Their investments blow away the LDS church investments. And to fire people for not being LDS is absolute crap as well.

    I bet you're a person with deep hatred for the LDS church and all Mormons in general so save you crap for the religious hate chat rooms.

    May 25, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Chipster

    Who would know more about what happened to employees at Bain than the employees at Bain. This is the Republican formula and it's supported in businesses all over the country. At Armstrong World industries, jobs were shipped overseas. More than 100 employees lost their jobs and benefits long after conceding to several pay and benefits cuts with the lame promise that it would "save jobs!" When the employees were laid off, the top 5 executives split and $8 million bonus! Think long and hard about what Republicans are saying. They are crushing the middle class and who is oging to purchase American products if there is no middle class earning enough money to purchase those products? Don't let them use dead-end, no solution issues like religion, race, and gender to smoke-screen the damage they have done and will do ! Senior citizens, factory workers, small business owners – please don't vote against your best interests.

    May 25, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. tumbleweed

    Wow, where are the regular anti Obama posters.....crickets again......where's Four, Bend over and kiss his own, Tom and the rest?? Cowards, I tell you.

    May 25, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  24. Me

    ... "team Obama is demonizing" .. To me saying that something is being demonized means something is being falsely portrayed as wicked or threatening. The threatening behavior of Bain towards the US market and those that worked for this company below a upper-management level are based on facts. Thus stating the ad is 'demonizing' Bain is false.

    May 25, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. Anthony

    The point for the Bain ad is not that private equity companies are evil. The point is that while private equity companies make money buying and then selling companies, there are losers in the transactions. The companies are burdened with huge debts, and when they go out of business, their workers lose their jobs. This is the kind of business experience Romney will bring to the White House. He will give tax cuts to the rich. Everyone will get a 20% tax cut, but 20% cut means more for the rich. More importantly, the 20% tax cut simply becomes part of the deficit. Romney has not explained what spending he will cut. He can't, because he wants to get elected. Thus, as president Romney will do what he did well at Bain: make money for his main supporters, the rich, but leave a debt behind for the rest of us.

    May 25, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
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