When Scott Prouty’s surreptitious video recording of Mitt Romney surfaced during the presidential election, the country gravitated toward his comments about 47% of Americans who, Romney said, did not pay income taxes and felt “entitled to health care, to food, to housing–you name it.” The video was universally dubbed “the 47% tape.” But as the videographer revealed, it was not Romney’s 47% remarks that motivated him to go public with the video: it was Romney’s comment about a factory in China–later identified as Global-Tech Appliances–the prompted Prouty to take action. As Romney attested in the video, Bain Capital had acquired this factory in 1998, which employed mostly young women who stayed “twelve to a room” on “three bunk beds on top of each other” in a building surrounded by “a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers.” “I don’t know how any person with a conscience could walk in there and get a good feeling and say, ‘You know what? This is the business model I want to take. This is going to make me a couple more million dollars. And that was wonderful. Then hop on your private plane and leave,” Prouty said on The Last Word, noting that jobs were also taken from American workers in the process. “I just couldn’t believe that he would be bragging about it while he was running for president,” said Prouty. “I guess if you can go take advantage of people overseas, I suppose you can get away with it. But just because you can get away with it, doesn’t mean it’s right – especially if you’re running for president.” Romney mentions in Prouty’s tape that a Bain partner turned to him after the factory visit and remarked on the good fortune of being born in America. Romney echoed the sentiment to the dinner party guests where the video was recorded: “This is an amazing land and what we have is unique, and fortunately it is so special we are sharing it with the world.” Ben Labolt, who served as National Press Secretary for President Obama’s 2012 campaign, tweeted that that he found it “interesting” the Chinese factory story caught Prouty’s attention.
I always thought that would get more attention – barbed wire ringed plant w/ people sleeping in slummy dorms that Romney et al invested in — Ben LaBolt (@BenLaBolt) March 14, 2013
Even before any comment had been made to the fundraising guests, Prouty said he was a bit surprised by Romney’s treatment of the catering company hosting the event. That night Prouty was bartending, as he said he had done for several high-profile events, including one for Bill Clinton in which the former president greeted each of the servers and took pictures with them (Prouty’s reason for bringing the camera). According to Prouty, Romney carried himself differently than Clinton. “He had basically just walked into a dinner party that he was the guest of honor and he demanded that the service be sped up,” Prouty said. “I thought that was kind of remarkable, because, you know, anybody that walks into a dinner party, it doesn’t matter who you are–I can’t imagine demanding to be fed faster, to be served faster. You know, it wasn’t like we were behind schedule.” Prouty apologized to the managers of the catering company in question for “not being fair to them” by releasing his video. Prouty also said he thought his colleagues at the company “probably had a pretty good idea” that it was him who recorded Romney, but “they were great to not expose me.”