Obama official Stephanie Cutter made the claim following a Boston Globe article that said documents show Romney was in charge at Bain for three years longer than he had claimed. Cutter said Romney was either misrepresenting his position at Bain to the Securities and Exchange Commission, "which is a felony," or misrepresenting to the American people.
Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades issued a blistering statement in response.
"President Obama's campaign hit a new low today when one of its senior advisers made a reckless and unsubstantiated charge to reporters about Mitt Romney that was so over the top that it calls into question the integrity of their entire campaign," Rhoades said. "President Obama ought to apologize for the out-of-control behavior of his staff, which demeans the office he holds. Campaigns are supposed to be hard fought, but statements like those made by Stephanie Cutter belittle the process and the candidate on whose behalf she works."
But Romney's campaign issued a statement Thursday from Bain that said Romney "left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Olympics and has had absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies since the day of his departure. Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney's departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in various capacities on SEC filings during this period."
J.W. Verrett, an attorney and economics scholar at George Washington University's Mercatus Center, also told Fox News that the original Globe report appeared to "be confused" about the SEC filings.
He noted they refer to "Bain Capital VI," which he described as an investment separate from Bain Capital itself.
"Saying that Governor Romney was the CEO of Bain Capital VI is like saying that I am the CEO of my retirement account ... it's a silly bit of legalese and it doesn't also mean I am CEO of all the companies in which I invest," he said in an email.