Priorities USA Action, a “super PAC” supporting President Obama, released an advertisement on Tuesday suggesting that Mitt Romney’s actions indirectly contributed to a woman’s death. Joe Soptic, a former worker at GST Steel in Kansas City, Mo., speaks into the camera, while the ad intersperses shots of a shuttered factory.
The ad fails to mention important context. The plant’s parent company
struggled before Bain bought it, and it is not clear whether the plant
would have otherwise remained open after 2001. Other steel manufacturers
went bankrupt in the same period. While Mr. Romney, who ran Bain, has
taken responsibility for the private equity firm’s initial investment in
the company, a campaign official said that Mr. Romney had no influence
or role in the decision to close the plant in February 2001. The
official said that Mr. Romney “wasn’t involved in any of the investment
or management decisions at Bain Capital after February 1999” when he
went on leave to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. Mr. Romney technically
retained control of Bain through August 2001, when he formally
transferred his shares of Bain’s management corporation to the other
Mr. Soptic says his wife became ill “a short time after” his family lost
health care. But Mr. Soptic lost his job at GST in 2001, and his wife
died in June 2006. She was taken to a hospital where doctors found
signs of “very advanced cancer,” and died two weeks later, according to
The Kansas City Star. Mr. Soptic was employed as a custodian for
$24,000 a year — about one-third his former salary — but his health plan
did not cover his wife, according to an article in January by Reuters.
That article reported that when his wife began to lose weight, Mr.
Soptic said that he “tried to get her to the doctor and she wouldn’t
go.” Efforts to reach Mr. Soptic were unsuccessful. But CNN reported that he said his wife had insurance through her employer until 2002 or 2003, when she left her job because of an injury.
The super PAC ad compresses time in way that links the closure of the GST plant with Mrs. Soptic’s fatal illness. (Full Story)