Mitt Romney, businessman, is back in action. According to NBC News, the former presidential candidate and private equity baron has been hired by Solamere Capital, a Massachusetts-based PE firm co-founded and run by his son, Tagg. Romney has maintained an office at Solamere's Boston headquarters since November, but hasn't advised the company on its investments. Going forward, he'll advise the company on a part-time basis:
A person with knowledge of the deal tells NBC that Romney is planning to work with Solamere for one week a month. He will be advising on matters of private equity, and is not planning to fundraise at all for the firm.
This marks the first time since 1999 — or 2000, or 2001, depending on whom you ask or which SEC papers you consult — that Romney has played a role in the private equity industry, which he pioneered at the Bain & Company offshoot he founded in 1984, Bain Capital. Like Bain, Solamere — named after a tony section of Park City, Utah — is shrouded in a certain amount of intrigue, much of it generated by reports that it functioned as a de facto political action committee for Romney's 2012 campaign.
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It's also the first time that Romney will be employed in some capacity — apart from the grind of two presidential campaigns, and that job on the board of Marriott — since he left the governor's mansion of Massachusetts in 2007 to focus on his 2008 presidential campaign. It's unclear, though, whether this signals something deeper, or portends any kind of long-term plan. Romney is speaking at CPAC on March 14, and recently appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss his November loss to President Obama, so it's not as if he's positioning himself to permanently exit politics.
Still, his decision to reenter private equity — as opposed to, say, charity work — does seem to send a message about the battle he lost in 2012 to defend the integrity of his business career. As many noted both before and after November 6, Obama for America succeeded in painting Romney as a ruthless capitalist who destroyed thousands of jobs in search of consistent returns, thus turning a key plank of Romney's campaign into a vulnerability. His return, then, could indicate a wish to remake his image not just as a politician, but as a businessman.