The New York Times tried to tie Mitt Romney to Communist China's video surveillance of its citizens in a Friday front-page story from Beijing by Andrew Jacobs and Penn Bullock, "A U.S. Tie to Push On Surveillance In Chinese Cities -- Firm Romney Founded – Bain Bought Supplier of Cameras Used in Monitoring." But the Times left off the fact that employees at Bain Capital have given more money to Democrats than Republicans over the last four years.
The Web headline was more explicit: "Firm Romney Founded Is Tied to Chinese Surveillance." Romney's name was mentioned 12 times in the 1,800-word story, although the Times itself admitted (in paragraph five) that he has had no role in Bain’s operations since 1999.
As the Chinese government forges ahead on a multibillion-dollar effort to blanket the country with surveillance cameras, one American company stands to profit: Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney.
In December, a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust has holdings purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company that claims to be the largest supplier to the government’s Safe Cities program, a highly advanced monitoring system that allows the authorities to watch over university campuses, hospitals, mosques and movie theaters from centralized command posts.
The Bain-owned company, Uniview Technologies, produces what it calls “infrared antiriot” cameras and software that enable police officials in different jurisdictions to share images in real time through the Internet. Previous projects have included an emergency command center in Tibet that “provides a solid foundation for the maintenance of social stability and the protection of people’s peaceful life,” according to Uniview’s Web site.
Such surveillance systems are often used to combat crime and the manufacturer has no control over whether they are used for other purposes. But human rights advocates say in China they are also used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents. “There are video cameras all over our monastery, and their only purpose is to make us feel fear,” said Loksag, a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Gansu Province. He said the cameras helped the authorities identify and detain nearly 200 monks who participated in a protest at his monastery in 2008.
Mr. Romney has had no role in Bain’s operations since 1999 and had no say over the investment in China. But the fortunes of Bain and Mr. Romney are still closely tied.
Mr. Romney reported on his August disclosure forms that he and his wife earned a minimum of $5.6 million from Bain assets held in their blind trusts and retirement accounts. Bain employees and executives are also among the largest donors to his campaign, and their contributions accounted for 10 percent of the money received over the past year by Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney “super PAC.” Bain employees have also made substantial contributions to Democratic candidates, including President Obama.
That last sentence vastly understates the case. As The Hill reported in January:
Democrats have accepted more political donations than Republicans from executives at Bain Capital, complicating the left’s plan to attack Mitt Romney for his record at the private-equity firm.
During the last three election cycles, Bain employees have given Democratic candidates and party committees more than $1.2 million. The vast majority of that sum came from senior executives.
Republican candidates and party committees raised over $480,000 from senior Bain executives during that time period.
Romney has collected more money from Bain Capital employees than any federal candidate since the beginning of 2007, amassing more than $166,000 in contributions. He took more than $84,000 from Bain employees in the first three quarters of 2011.
But President Obama received a sizable share as well. He has accepted more than $80,000 from Bain employees since the beginning of 2007. Bain Capital employees gave $27,500 to Obama during the first three quarters of 2011.
The Times teased:
It also comes at a delicate time for Mr. Romney, who has frequently called for a hard line against the Chinese government’s suppression of religious freedom and political dissent.