Mother Jones's David Corn has a report out this morning that pushes the continuing attacks on Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital forward not just because of the business it involves — disposing of aborted fetuses — but because it extends the length of time he worked at Bain. According to Securities and Exchange Commission documents, Romney was involved in Bain's investment in a company called Stericycle in late 1999. What did Stericycle do? Well, it was a fast-growing, profitable medical waste company. But it also had some problems, such as getting fined for keeping body parts and dead animals in unmarked containers or exposing workers to tuberculosis. And then there were the fetuses. Romney now describes himself as "adamantly pro-life" now but embraced pro-choice positions on abortion in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Back when Bain was involved with Stericycle, anti-abortion activists have waged a campaign against the company.
But that revelation may not be the most significant part of Corn's report (conservatives who aren't wild about Romney's conservative credentials aren't making much noise now that Romney is the Republican nominee). The most damaging part may be the dates. The SEC documents Corn reviewed state that Romney "may be deemed to share voting and dispositive power with respect to" more than 2 million shares of Stericycle stock "in his capacity as sole shareholder" in the Bain companies involved in the deal. A late November 1999 document names Romney as holding "voting and dispositive power" over the Bain-owned stock. That's significant because the Romney campaign has tried to enforce a hard stop of Romney's involvement at Bain of February 1999 when he stepped down from his full-time role. When The Washington Post reported that several companies that Bain held stakes in were "pioneers" in outsourcing American jobs, the Romney campaign responded by insisting Romney had no role in the matter after February 1999. Contemporaneous reports are not quite so definitive, saying that Romney would become a "part-timer." The Stericycle story helps demonstrate just what Romney's part-time role looked like.