By STEPHEN BRAUN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new financial report from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney shows that his personal fortune remains near $250 million, about the same as last year even after a mass sell-off of stocks from his vast investment portfolio.
Romney's campaign said Friday that his assets ranged between $190 million and $250 million, and a tally by The Associated Press put the figure at the high end of that range.
The new financial report from Romney describes sales over the past year of a large amount of stocks that had been managed through his blind trust. The stocks sold included such familiar corporate entities as Boeing, Volkswagen and Pepsico.
The stock sales also included several notable firms whose interests had conflicted with Romney's stances — among them China-based businesses Hang Lung and Komatsu. Romney has advocated toughened dealings with China's government over its expanding economic interests.
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul stressed Friday that the investment decisions for Romney and his wife, Ann, were made under a blind trust administered by a Boston-based lawyer who has long worked with Romney. "Governor and Mrs. Romney's assets are managed on a blind basis," Saul said. "They do not control the investment of these assets, which are under the control and overall management of a trustee."
In 2007 during his first presidential run, Romney had assured critics that the trustee, R. Bradford Malt, would see that his investments would not clash with his positions or Republican party stances. But the new 2012 disclosure — along with other Romney financial documents released earlier this year — showed that the Romneys held onto some of those investments well past 2007.
The annual financial disclosure report that Romney turned over Friday to the Federal Election Commission showed a slightly wider range — between $83 million and $255 million — than the narrower asset range released by the Romney campaign. A Romney campaign official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the candidate's finances said that the campaign's figures were slightly more accurate because of differences in valuation.
The new financial disclosure shows that even after his stock sales, Romney still made millions of dollars over the past year in lucrative bank notes and investment funds, including nearly 40 different funds associated with his former company, Bain Capital.
Those assets include at least two investments that had not been previously disclosed in Romney's 2010 financial report. Both were described as "Bain Capital Inc." funds. One was valued at nearly $2 million; the other slightly more than $3,500.
In notes provided Friday with the disclosure, Romney's trustee explained that the income from those investments and others cited in the disclosure were part of Romney's retirement agreement with Bain Capital. Romney's 2010 financial disclosure did not provide any details about his retirement agreement. The specifics of that agreement — which provided Romney with steady income in the 13 years since he left Bain Capital in 1999 — have never been made public.
The notes explain that the two "Bain Capital Inc." funds are from expired entities that "formerly operated investment advisory businesses." The notes say that the income was provided to Romney under "true-up payments" — in essence, catch-up payments — to make up for payments not made before the entities ceased operation. Romney campaign officials were not immediately available to further explain those payments.
Romney also reported owning as much as $500,000 in gold — a holding similar to what he owned last year. He also reported $260,000 in stock retainer distributions from the Marriott Corporation, where he served on the board of directors until early 2011. Romney's father, George Romney, was close to the Marriott family, and the firm's current chairman, J.W. "Bill" Marriott is a prominent fund-raiser and has donated $500,000 to a pro-Romney political committee.
Romney made $190,000 in speaker's fees for speeches at Emory University, Barclay's Bank, the International Franchise Assn. and the Intercontinental Real Estate Fund. He also received as much as $100,000 from proceeds from his campaign-themed book, "No Apology."
Romney's stock sales unloaded dozens of investments that had been managed under his blind trust by several investment management companies. The campaign did not explain the rationale behind the stock sales, but tax forms released by the Romney campaign earlier this year showed that both the blind trust overseeing his and his wife's investments began shedding many stocks in 2010, just before he geared up his presidential campaign.
Among the stocks that Romney sold, according to Friday's disclosure, included Wal-Mart's Mexican operation, which has been roiled by payoff allegations, and British Sky Broadcasting, the television operation sought by media magnate Rupert Murdoch.
Other sold stocks included Komatsu and Schlumberger, firms that have been targeted in the past for doing business in Iran. The blind trust also shed an investment in Fresenius Medical Care, a German company that has done work in stem cell research, which Romney has said he opposes.
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