During the 2008 Presidential race, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin turned slander into an art form.
Her most poisonous charge: That Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama would make “death panels” a part of his proposed healthcare program.
But in 2012, she supported a candidate–Mitt Romney–who made his fortune through the “death panels” of his investors.
In 1983, Bill Bain, a management consultant, gave Romney a risky assignment: Launch Bain Capital, a private equity offshoot of his profitable consulting firm Bain & Company.
But there was a catch: Romney couldn’t raise money from Bain’s current clients. If the private equity venture failed, the consulting firm mustn’t disappear with it.
Romney and his partners considered a wide range of options.
Finally, they settled on one: A group of oligarchs from El Salvador were seeking new investment opportunities.
Romney decided to meet with them.
He flew to Miami in mid-1984 and met with the Salvadorans at a local bank. Both sides left happy with their arrangement.
The Salvadorans invested about $9 million–40% of Bain Capital’s initial outside funding.
Among those investors: Ricardo Poma, Miguel Dueñas, Pancho Soler, Frank Kardonski, and Diego Ribadeneira.
Two other wealthy and powerful El Salvadoran families–those of de Sola and Salaverria–also became founding investors in Bain Capital.
Determined to retain their privileged status, members of these families were directly or indirectly funding right-wing death squads in El Salvador.
The squads’ targets were reformers and left-wing guerrillas. According to a United Nations study, at least 75,000 were killed in the Salvadoran civil war between 1979 and 1992.
Death squad victims
By 1982, 35,000 civilians had been murdered–with right-wing death squads responsible for most of the killings, stated El Salvador’s independent Human Rights Commission.
Much of this carnage happened during the Reagan Administration (1981-1989), when right-wingers in Washington found common cause with those in Central America.
Romney’s highly lucrative dealings with men linked to Central American death squads have been verified by such publications as the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe and the Salt Lake Tribune.
A major reason why Romney refused to release more than two years’ worth of his tax returns could have been this: He had more to hide than just how little in taxes he had paid.
Some of those financial disclosures might lead–literally–to hundreds or even thousands of bodies dumped into unmarked graves throughout El Salvador.
The most prominent victim of those right-wing death squads was Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador. A longtime champion of the poor, he was celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980, when he was shot to death before his horrified congregation.
The murder was ordered by Major Roberto D’Aubuisson, founder of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party.
After Obama’s election as President in 2008, Republicans bitterly opposed his efforts to provide all Americans–and not simply the richest 1%–with healthcare insurance.
Those efforts ultimately bore fruit as the Affordable Care Act–otherwise known as Obamacare.
As one of those Republican opponents, Sarah Palin repeatedly claimed that Obama intended to create government “death panels” to murder elderly and disabled patients.
Although she never offered a shred of evidence for this allegation, millions of American right-wingers eagerly believed it.
On the other hand, multiple and reputable sources demonstrated how Mitt Romney made money through men who either commanded death squads or were linked to others who did.
But Palin never had a single word of criticism for the man who would become the Republican nominee for President.
Little is reliably known about the full extent of Romney’s complex financial dealings. That’s why his refusal to release more than two years’ tax returns became an issue that wouldn’t go away.
Romney released only his 2010 returns and an estimate for his 2011 returns. But his own father, Michigan Governor George Romney, released 12 years of tax returns during his 1968 run for the presidency.
Perhaps Romney had nothing to hide and refused to release his tax returns out of sheer stubbornness.
But if he were truly innocent of any wrongdoing–financial or otherwise–then it would have been in his own best interests to make the returns public. And as quickly as possible.
This is, after all, a longstanding tradition among candidates for President. And doing so would have instantly squelched rumors and accusations that he had something sinister or embarrassing to hide.
Instead, Romney and his wife, Ann, acted as though the White House belonged to them by divine right. And that no one had the right to ask them any questions they didn’t want to answer.
During an interview with NBC News, Romney said: “We have been very transparent to what’s legally required of us. There’s going to be no more tax releases given.”
Romney could have followed the sterling example set by his father–whom he clearly admires–anytime he wished to.
But he didn’t.
Americans may never know if “the man from Bain” has the blood of Archbishop Romero–or other El Salvadoran death squad victim––on his hands.
And if Romney does know, he isn’t saying.