Mr. Secrecy

Updated
 

Mitt Romney’s penchant for identifying his own faults and then assigning them to President Obama came into sharper focus this week – I’m still laughing about his anti-Harvard nonsense – with the Republican nominee taking the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” tactic to new extremes.

But while some of the recent examples are more substantive than others, it’s striking that Romney has chosen to go after Obama on the issues of transparency and secrecy. In reality, there’s ample evidence that this is one of Romney’s more troubling weaknesses.

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, whose wealth has become a central issue in the 2012 campaign, has taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings.

By offering a limited description of his assets, Romney has made it difficult to know precisely where his money is invested, whether it is offshore or in controversial companies, or whether those holdings could affect his policies or present any conflicts of interest.

In 48 accounts from Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded in Boston, Romney declined on his financial disclosure forms to identify the underlying assets, including his holdings in a company that moved U.S. jobs to China and a California firm once owned by Bain that filed for bankruptcy years ago and laid off more than 1,000 workers.

It’s all the more reason Romney’s elusive tax returns are so important, and helps explain why he’s been so secretive with the materials.

This also reinforces a larger pattern of secrecy. Remember, shortly before Romney departed the governor’s office, 11 of his top aides purchased 17 state-issued hard drives, and purged the Romney administration’s email records in advance of his presidential campaign. Soon after, Romney admitted the move was intended to hide official correspondence from the public and keep potentially-embarrassing information from “opposition research” teams.

Romney has also said he’ll keep the details of his policy agenda secret until after the election.

This is the same guy who’s attacking the president for lacking transparency? As Rachel joked last night, the next thing we’ll hear from Romney are complaints about Obama’s lousy tenure as Massachusetts governor.

Mitt Romney

Mr. Secrecy

Updated