Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TOP STORY>>Bain invested in LR ‘medical-waste’ firm

Leader executive editor

If you’re wondering why Mitt Romney is distancing himself from the investment company he founded, it’s not just because he bought businesses that cost thousands of American jobs after factories closed down and work was outsourced to China and other countries.

You’ve heard all that during the Republican primaries and now from the Obama campaign. What you probably don’t know is that Bain and Company, the investment firm Romney founded and owned until 2002, was the majority owner of a Little Rock-based medical-waste disposal company called Stericycle.

Stericycle not only disposes of medical equipment, body parts, blood, syringes, gowns and gloves, but it also picks up fetuses from abortion clinics, including one in Little Rock and elsewhere.

According to Stericycle’s website, “We’ve got your office covered with a service that goes well beyond the pickup (sic) of a box.”

Stericycle, which is still active in Arkansas, operates facilities in Benton and elsewhere, which are monitored by the Department of Environmental Quality, formerly Pollution Control and Ecology. An ADEQ spokesperson told us Stericyle “transports medical waste from its Arkansas facilities to disposal/incineration facilities in other states.” Boxes are sealed and trucked to disposal sites, including Texas, where Stericycle was fined for illegally dumping fetuses.

Abortion opponents have posted several videos on You Tube showing Stericycle’s trucks speeding down I-30 toward the company’s plant in Benton. Another website lists locations where Stericycle does business in Arkansas. (See Some of the pictures are disturbing.)

Sure, Romney says he wasn’t actively involved in Bain after he left to manage the Winter Olympics in Utah in 1999. But he was Bain’s sole stockholder and was listed as its chief executive until 2002.

Romney was still pro-choice back then and ran for Massachusetts governor as a progressive. He thought climate change was man-made, and he supported cap and trade to reduce pollution. He pushed through health-insurance mandates (Romneycare) while he was governor.

Running for president in 2008, Romney changed his mind on those issues as he did on abortion.

Romney loves outsourcing. This year’s U.S. Olympics uniforms were made in China, but Mitt pioneered this practice for the 2002 Winter Olympics. He had the uniforms made in Burma, another authoritarian state. It’s a subject he’d rather not talk about.

In any case, Stericycle was not the kind of business the presidential nominee of a pro-life party should have been involved with, even if, as Romney claims, he was only drawing a (six-figure) salary and deferred compensation from Bain without actively managing the firm.

A little background about Stericycle:

Dr. James Sharp started the company with a group of investors in Little Rock in February 1990. Sharp got the idea for the company when he was still in school in the 1980s and noticed how difficult it was to get rid of medical waste without violating environmental rules.

He presented a business plan to investors, who in a few years helped make Stericycle the largest medical-waste disposal company in the nation.

According to an article by David Corn in Mother Jones (“Romney invested in medical-waste firm that disposed of aborted fetuses, government documents show”), Stericycle at first irradiated its waste and then used radio waves before burning or burying the waste.

The company grew more dramatically when sharpies at Bain and Company took note of Stericycle in 2000 and saw its full potential. Romney was away organizing the Winter Olympics, but he was still listed as Bain’s CEO and sole stockholder.

In papers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Romney said he still attended board meetings, which proved he was a resident of Massachusetts, where Bain was based, thus making him eligible to run for governor.

Corn says Bain had made a smart bet on Stericycle, almost doubling its $75 million investment. Much of that money went into Romney’s pockets. (Should he give the money to charity, perhaps to children’s hospitals in the poverty-stricken Delta?)

Romney should release the minutes of Bain’s board meetings to clarify his involvement with Stericycle.

How often did he attend meetings? How much was he paid? How much money did he take out of the company?

We would know if he re-leased his tax returns for the last 20 years, which would also shed light on those mysterious foreign bank accounts, including a rumored $100 million IRA.

Rick Santorum called Rom-ney “the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.” The former presidential candidate urged primary voters to “pick any other Republican in the country” than Romney, calling him “uniquely disqualified.”

There’s no telling what else Santorum would have said if he’d known about Stericycle during the primaries.