Mitt Romney: Auto Bailout Beneficiary

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Workers install doors on Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCross vehicles April 21, 2010 at the General Motors plant in Fairfax, Kansas.

On the campaign trail, and in his formal acceptance speech for the Democratic presidential nomination, President Barack Obama has promoted what he considers to be a success story: the government’s $80 billion bailout of the American auto industry.

However, the spending of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bailout the car industry is a divisive issue in the upcoming election.

Obama’s challenger, Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, did not support the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. Back in 2008, when Obama won the presidency, Romney wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in which he called for a “managed bankruptcy” for the troubled automakers. Today, Romney stands by his “managed bankruptcy” option and says the Detroit automakers would have come out stronger through the process.

But according to Phillip Martin, a senior investigative reporter at WGBH, Romney himself is a beneficiary of this very bailout he opposed.

"When Romney left Bain, he engineered his own golden parachute," says Martin. This "parachute" allowed him to continue to profit from past and future Bain investments.

These future investments included Sensata Techonologies, a company that makes sensors in cars. In 2008, Sensata was heading south. But after the auto bailout, the company started to make money. A lot of money. 

Jeremy Thompson, a senior researcher for Mass Uniting, spoke to Martin about his findings. "One of Mitt Romney's top investments is this thing called Fund 8, which is a Bain Capital investment. Fund 8 is part of Bain's controlling interest in the company called Sensata. Sixty-three percent of their business in 2011 came from the automotive industry."

Exactly how much money Romney made from this is unclear, in part because of his continued refusal to release his complete tax returns. From his 2010 tax return, we know that he made about $22 million that year — a good amount of which was brought in by Fund 8. 

In the wake of Romney's comments about the '47 percent' of Americans who accept government money, this development seems ironic at best, and hypocritical at worst — particularly given his vehement opposition of the bailout.