* Romney wealth handled by longtime personal lawyer
* Obama campaign says Romney should meet tougher federal
* Romney still getting money from Bain
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON, June 7 Republican presidential
candidate Mitt Romney is not doing enough to ensure his
political actions are not influenced by his multimillion-dollar
fortune, officials with President Barack Obama's campaign said
The Obama campaign questioned why Romney has kept his
extensive investments in a blind trust administered by his
longtime lawyer, rather than setting up a trust that meets more
rigorous federal conflict-of-interest standards.
Obama officials periodically invoke Romney's fortune, worth
as much as $250 million, to try to make the case that he is out
of touch with the concerns of most Americans.
"It raises a host of questions of why it is that he will not
abide by more rigorous standards," Obama general counsel Robert
Bauer said on a conference call.
The Romney campaign dismissed the questions as an effort by
the Obama campaign to change the subject after a string of bad
news in recent days.
Romney has pulled virtually even with Obama in several
polls, raised more campaign cash than the president's team did
in May, and has new hope of a strong showing in Wisconsin, where
Republican Governor Scott Walker survived a recall election on
"Another day, another tired distraction by the Obama
campaign, which is frantic to avoid discussing the continued
rejection of President Obama's agenda by the electorate and by
members of his own party," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
"As has been reported for years, Governor and Mrs. Romney's
assets are managed on a blind basis," Saul added. "They do not
control the investment of these assets, which are under the
control and overall management of a trustee."
WON'T MEET FEDERAL STANDARDS
Since he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002,
Romney's finances have been handled in a blind trust by longtime
personal attorney Brad Malt, who also served as the primary
outside lawyer to Romney's former private equity firm, Bain
That arrangement would not comply with stricter federal
standards for independence, said Stephen Potts, a former head of
the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
Romney officials have said they would set up a blind trust
that meets federal standards if he were elected president. That
means Romney, and the public, wouldn't know details of his
holdings, Potts said.
Obama officials say Romney should have set up the federal
trust when he first ran for president in 2007.
Critics question whether Malt has handled Romney's finances
in a truly independent manner, pointing to a $1 million
investment in Solamere Capital LLC, a hedge fund run in part by
Romney's son Tagg.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Malt sold off holdings
in Chinese companies after Mitt Romney began sharply criticizing
Chinese trade and currency policies last year.
Malt also has said he tries to manage the fund in a way that
reflects Romney's political beliefs.
Romney has been reluctant to reveal details of his private
Under pressure from Republican rivals in January, he
released a tax return from 2010 and an estimate for 2011 that
show he paid a lower effective tax rate than many top wage
earners. Romney officials said then that his holdings included
funds based in the Cayman Islands and other overseas entities. A
Swiss bank account was closed in 2010, Malt acknowledged, to
avoid the appearance that Romney was using the account to dodge
Romney has declined to release tax records for the years in
the 1980s and 1990s when he made his fortune at Bain.
Romney gave up day-to-day control of Bain in 1999, but
continued to participate in Bain investments for 10 years under
a severance agreement. He has continued to earn money from his
Bain investments since that agreement expired; a disclosure form
filed last week revealed roughly $2 million in new Bain income.
Romney has declined to reveal details about his severance
agreement with Bain, raising questions about his continued ties
to the firm.
Obama officials suggested that Romney might still be
involved with the company in order to qualify for a low tax
rate, known as "carried interest," that is claimed by
"He may have some sort of an arrangement by which Bain
believes that he's continuing to render valuable service in some
way to them," Bauer said.
One tax analyst said the law is clear that Romney could
qualify for the low rate based on the work he did at Bain before
"I think the law is pretty clear that he's entitled to
carried interest treatment for those profit interests," said
David S. Miller, a tax lawyer at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.
(Editing by David Lindsey and Lisa Shumaker)