But from the mid 1990s through 2002, Bain Capital and Romney personally had enormous wealth, leverage, relationships, and influence that translated into an increasingly wide range of often difficult-to-unravel investments — some of which might look sketchy to average Americans.
And, in some cases, while he was running the Olympics, Romney made personal investment decisions in tandem with those made by Bain — making it hard to believe he was really out of the Bain loop.
One of those is DDi Corp., which Bain Capital took over in 1996, while Romney was still unambiguously in charge.
Bain took DDi public in 2000, and over the following year sold off two-thirds of its shares, at a reported $36 million profit. Romney personally signed the SEC documents reporting those sales — as well as the documents reporting his own sale, in the same time period, of some $4 million of his own personal DDi shares.
DDi's stock collapsed soon after, falling from $28 a share to pennies. Among those hit was the Massachusetts pension fund, which had close to $350,000 invested in DDi.
The SEC claimed that Lehman Brothers' research business over-touted the stock, under pressure from DDi, Bain Capital, and Lehman's banking arm, which helped underwrite the DDi IPO. Lehman later paid a massive settlement to resolve that and a host of similar SEC charges.
The SEC did not accuse Bain Capital or Romney of wrongdoing in the DDi case, but it certainly smacks of the type of insider-always-wins stock manipulation that outraged people in the housing-market collapse.
Romney's response, when the case made news while he was governor, was to say that he was on leave of absence for the Olympics at the time. Maintaining that excuse is even more vital for him as he runs for president, in the aftermath of banking scandals.
PROFITEERING, IN BERMUDA?
Then there is the case of Endurance Specialty, one of several casualty insurance companies that sprung up immediately after the 9/11 attacks, which some accused of profiteering off the tragedy.
Endurance Specialty was created in December 2001, and was one of the first major investments of Golden Gate Capital — a fund started by former Bain Capital managers, consisting primarily of large investments from Bain and from Romney personally.
As Endurance Specialty itself proclaimed in its 2002 prospectus, there was an "attractive opportunity" because "many global property and casualty insurers and reinsurers are currently experiencing significantly reduced capital" due to several factors, including "the World Trade Center tragedy."
In other words, existing insurance companies had their money tied up waiting to sort out 9/11 claims — just as fear-driven customers were desperate to add more coverage, and willing to pay skyrocketing premiums. Companies like Endurance Specialty were able to charge 300 to 400 percent more than pre-9/11 rates, according to reports at the time.
That business can be viewed either as profiteering, or meeting a need.
Either way, Endurance Specialty did do one thing Romney is sensitive about: the company avoided paying US income taxes by basing its operations in Bermuda. It set up shop there, even though almost all of its funding and management were American, and two-thirds of its sales were in the US.
In its prospectus, the company even claims to have received assurances from the Bermuda Ministry of Finance that Endurance Specialty would be exempt from any newly passed taxes there until 2016.