This is some confusing mess this morning (via CNBC):
A previous story incorrectly reported that Mitt Romney’s former firm, Bain & Co., was part of a team of consulting companies that advised President Barack Obama on a decision to shutter car dealerships during the auto bailout. Bain & Co. said it has no connection to the “Bain Consulting” firm referenced in government documents.
The source of the confusion is obvious. In a report cited late yesterday by CNBC, the TARP watchdog—the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program—twice mentioned “Bain Consulting.” First here:
And, of course, the original CNBC story caused much political hubbub given Mitt Romney’s career at private-equity firm Bain Capital, which was founded by partners from Bain & Co., a management consultancy. But many questions remain.
1. The report clearly mentions a “Bain Consulting.”
2. Bain & Co. says it has no connection to “Bain Consulting.”
3. Indeed, while Bain & Co. does provide consulting services, they do not appear to have a unit called “Bain Consulting.” So is Bain just evasively giving a legalistic, technical answer? That would seem weird.
4. I had a theory that the “Bain Consulting” mentioned in the SIGTARP report was actually meant to be a reference to Boston Consulting Group, which did do work for the WH auto team. But on Twitter, former TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky wrote the following as a response to my theory: “I doubt it. Our team cross-referenced and indexed those reports pretty carefully.”
I still think the case remains open on the theory.
4. It seems unlikely that there is some other “Bain Consulting” the WH would have consulted. There is a Bain & Associates Consulting in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. But the company would seem to have no special knowledge of the auto industry:
Bain and Associates Consulting is a consulting group specializing in industrial boiler and cooling systems. Bain and Associates is available for on-site analysis and problem solving, equipment inspection, training, and more.
So the Big Question remains: Who exactly is the “Bain Consulting” mentioned in the auto bailout report?
UPDATE: Barofsky gives an alternate theory: