Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter suggested that Mitt Romney may be a criminal on a conference call with reporters this morning about a Boston Globe report that shows that Romney stayed at Bain Capital three years past when he said he'd left.
Cutter said that there were two ways to interpret the story. The first: Mitt Romney was "misrepresenting his position" at Bain to the Securities and Exchange Commission, "which is a felony."
Or, he was "misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people. If that’s the case, if he was lying to the American people, that’s a real character and trust issue," Cutter said.
Cutter called on the Romney campaign to clear up by the issue by releasing the candidate's tax returns.
"If the SEC filings aren’t accurate, then prove it," she said.
Bob Bauer, head lawyer for the Obama campaign and a former White House counsel, also implied that Romney could be in legal trouble. He said that SEC documents are "very carefully scrutinized by lawyers because of the very severe consequences that follow from making statements to the SEC that aren’t correct."
"Of particular consequence woud be a misrepresentation that involved a controlling person," Bauer said, and "Romney is the controlling person."
The Obama team's charges against Romney extended all the way to his handling of the Salt Lake City Olympics, which Cutter described as "less than wholesome."
"These aren’t just campaign tactics, this is important information," Cutter said.
Earlier today, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement that the Boston Globe story was "not accurate." She did not specifically respond to a request for comment regarding the "felony" statement by Cutter.
UPDATE: An Obama campaign spokesman sends over this statement from Bob Bauer:
"Romney and Bain claim that he was not involved with Bain, but Bain and its portfolio companies in their required filings under the Securities Exchange Act continuously certified to the Securities and Exchange Commission say precisely the opposite--asserting without qualification that he was a controlling person, fully in charge of Bain, under the Federal securities law. Under normal circumstances, the question of the truth of this representation would result in an investigation by the SEC into possible criminal, as well as civil, violations of the law."
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