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Romney breaks pledge, stands to profit from Bain investment in Chinese surveillance company

Mitt Romney is still making millions from his private equity firm Bain Capital’s financial investments around the world. But, in deciding to run for office, he’s been trying to shed those investments that conflict with his newly-found political principles. For example, when Romney decided to switch his rhetoric and start talking tough towards China, it was reported that his financial advisers “shed all his investments in China, worth as much as $1.5 million.”

In fact, Mitt Romney once declared:

“My trustee has indicated publicly that he will make an effort to make sure that my investments to the extent possible and practical, will conform with my political positions.”

 

Once again, the facts conflict with Romney’s political rhetoric. The New York Times revealed that Romney’s firm Bain Capital is still investing his money in China—this time, in a Chinese company that manufacturers surveillance systems:

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.

Financial disclosure forms show that Romney still has a stake of “between $100,000 and $250,000 in the Bain Capital Asia fund that purchased Uniview.” Tax Notes noted that Romney’s retirement agreement with Bain Capital “covers new buyout funds started by his former partners through February 2009,” which means “Romney receives income from profits interests in separate Bain funds that are still running.”

Not only is Mitt Romney’s investment directly conflicting with his pledge, it’s conflicting with his newly-found principles. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Romney attacked President Obama with the false claim that he’s “demurred” on China’s human rights record, allowing a government that “marries aspects of the free market with suppression of political and personal freedom” to become “a widespread and disquieting norm.”

According to human rights activists, the company that Romney stands to profit from makes the very tools that the Chinese government uses “to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents.” One Tibetan Buddhist Monk noted that such surveillance cameras “helped the authorities identify and detain nearly 200 monks who participated in a protest” in 2008. “There are video cameras all over our monastery, and their only purpose is to make us feel fear,” he added.

Standing to profit from such a company violates Romney’s past pledge to match his principles with his investments. But this is not the first time he’s broken that pledge. After promising to shed investments the conflict with his party’s positions on Iran, stem cell research, and other issues, Romney’s family still “kept some of those stocks” the conflicted “and repeatedly bought new investments in similar holdings as recently as 2010.”