Hey, Ms. Ortiz, Perjury Is Perjury Too
"Stealing is stealing."
- U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz
After the suicide of Aaron Swartz, in desperate response to the take-no-prisoner efforts of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz to put him in jail for making public certain proprietary information taken from MIT's computers, she dismissed all criticism by stating "stealing is stealing." The problem with that, however, is the information belonged to JSTOR, not MIT, and JSTOR didn't want to charge Swartz with stealing.
How brave, then, of the crusading Ms. Ortiz and her staff, to pursue truth and justice the American way by persecuting an idealistic young man like Swartz for the high crime sharing numerous government funded research papers with the public without paying for it. Never mind that he wasn't making money reselling the documents and never mind that the owner of the documents didn't call for his prosecution. No, never mind all that. Ms. Ortiz was exercising prosecutorial discretion to uphold the law because, after all, "stealing is stealing."
Okay. But why doesn't she take the same hard line position to uphold the law with one Willard M. Romney who lives in Belmont, MA, on the same logic where perjury is perjury, no matter who the liar is?
It is clear that a charge of perjury can be sustained for Romney's sworn statement to the Federal Elections Commission last summer, claiming that he severed all ties with Bain Capital in 1999 when he moved to Utah to manage the Winter Olympics there. Romney's reason for claiming that he broke off with Bain in 1999 was the fact that they had been in the forefront of corporate raiders, vulture capitalists who bought companies on the cheap, looted them and then bankrupted them with thousands of American workers losing their jobs.
But Romney, of course, was supposed to be the Randian capitalist hero who creates jobs. He was saying that all through the primaries and then he had to make sworn disclosures, on the record, to the F.E.C. His choice was either tell the truth, and expose the Big Lie he'd been telling the public about free market capitalism creating jobs or lie on pain of perjury to the F.E.C. So what did he do? He lied, of course, and that was perjury.
Romney's problem here is that he told a different story under oath back in 2002 when he was running for governor of Massachusetts. His opponent, Shannon O'Brien, challenged his eligibility based on his residency in Utah. So Romney went under oath before the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission and testified that he came back to Massachusetts regularly, all through 2000 and 2001, to run his business here and attend board meetings.
That testimony was undoubtedly true. Romney had remained the principal owner, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Bain Capital, and any claim that he played no part in running the business, his business, is absurd on its face. Also, there are numerous Bain Capital filings with the Securities Exchange Commission all through 2000 and 2001 in which Romney is electronically signed as the "Reporting Person," i.e. the person having knowledge of the transactions being reported.
Those transactions were Bain Capital's mergers and acquisitions, i.e. the vulture capital deals where they were looting and then bankrupting companies, and Romney was identified to the S.E.C. as the point man on all of them. Those deals also had to be discussed by the Board of Directors of which Romney was Chairman at the board meetings he told the Ballot Law Commission he was attending in 2000 and 2001.
So when Romney testified under oath in 2002 that he had been returning to Boston to conduct business, that was undoubtedly true. Therefore, his sworn statement to the F.E.C. last summer, that he had severed all responsibility for Bain Capital's business in 1999 was clearly false, i.e. it was perjury. Telling two different stories about the same subject under oath creates a prima facie case of perjury, and to paraphrase Ms. Ortiz's comment about Aaron Swartz, perjury is perjury.
Some of us "liberals," including MoveOn.Org, were calling on Atty. General Holder to indict Romney for perjury last fall. Doing that, however, would create a huge outcry of political abuse of the law, and the Holder Justice Department wisely exercised its prosecutorial discretion not to bring charges back then. But that was then, and this is now.
The election is over, Obama won despite Romney's lying about his being a "job creator," and prosecuting Romney for perjury now would not be any more "political" than Ortiz's persecution of Aaron Swartz for the victimless crime of publicizing private information belonging to a company that didn't want to prosecute. That was clearly a prosecution intended to send a political message to protect property generally, as opposed to any real concern for truth and justice.
So if "stealing is stealing" in Aaron Swartz's case, why doesn't Ortiz see perjury as perjury in Romney's case? Unlike Aaron Swartz, Romney has scads of money, and he could easily afford to do a few years in a federal penitentiary. Ann would just have to sell some stock to get by, like they did back when they were putting Mitt through college.
Romney is way too vain and smugly self-satisfied to ever consider suicide, so why doesn't Ortiz indict him for perjury and then offer him a six-month sentence like she did with Swartz? That would do a lot more for justice than her persecution of Swartz did, or was even intended to do, and it would do a hell of a lot more in the name of truth.