Campaign officials of President Barack Obama questioned about the personal finances of Mitt Romney, a presumptive Republican nominee, after he said that his personal trusts holding his investments aren't truly blind under federal ethics law.
"It's been obvious for some time and has been reported that Governor Romney is not operating with a federally qualified blind trust. That certainly has been obvious," Obama campaign general counsel Robert Bauer told reporters.
"Yesterday, he took the position that was in fact the case he acknowledged that, but he also said that he wasn't prepared to make any changes until, and if, he became US President," he said referring to the admission made by Romney.
He said that raises a set of questions because function of a blind trust was to protect against conflicts of interest.
"If an officeholder doesn't want to desist himself or herself from holding to prevent a conflict of interest, then the alternative was to have a true blind trust with rigorous standards that you find under federal law," Bauer said.
The campaign official said that it raises a host of questions of why it was that he wouldn't abide by the more rigorous standards and address the question of conflict of interest since we know that he has far-flung investment interests offshore in foreign companies.
"On one of the most critical elements of a blind trust, that is the identity of the trustee, he has chosen a new, sort of independent fiduciary that the law called for. He has used his long time personal attorney," he said.
And so, in a very fundamental way, the trust was not blind nor has he taken any steps to make the trust blind from the vantage point of the federal ethics rules. And so he's neither divesting the assets nor is he in fact operating through a truly blind trust instrument to address these sorts of conflict of interest issues that presidential candidates and Presidents are expected to manage," Bauer said.
The Obama Campaign communication director Ben Labolt said for nine years, Romney has claimed that his investments were in a blind trust which was managed by his personal attorney.
"This gave him the appearance of keeping his investments at arm's length. It's also how he denied responsibility for his investments in a Swiss bank account, Chinese companies, companies that do business in Iran, and tax havens in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands," he said.
"This is vintage Romney. Taking credit when something looks good politically and passing the buck when it doesn't. He did it as corporate buyout specialist at Bain. He did it as Governor of Massachusetts. And now he's doing it as a candidate for President. Yet even as Romney admits that his blind trust isn't actually blind, he says he'll get around to fixing it only if he's elected President, not when he's a candidate. This raises some serious questions," Labolt said.
The Romney campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg termed the attack as tired distraction.
"As has been reported for years, Governor and Mrs Romney's assets are managed on a blind basis. They do not control the investment of these assets, which are under the control and overall management of a trustee," she said.