Democrats host Bain critics in Tampa

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Earlier this month, both Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry bashed Romney for his work at Bain, the private equity firm he founded that earned him his riches, riches that make him one of the wealthiest people ever to run for president.

Newt Gingrich has said that in some instances, the Bain model meant "leverage the game, borrow the money, leave the debt behind and walk off with all the profits," adding that he thought it was "exploitive," and not "venture capitalism."

Cindy Hewitt worked in the human resources department at Dade Behring from 1996-1998. She said the company had two plants in Miami and one in Puerto Rico, employing nearly 1,200 Americans at that time. But within a short amount of time, she learned that Bain wasn't trying to create jobs but in fact was looking for ways to eliminate employees.

She says after the Puerto Rican plant was shut down by Bain, she hoped that many of the highly skilled workers at that plant would be able to work in Miami. They were transferred to the Miami plant — but then let go after less than 60 days there.

"Personally, as a human resources manager, I was horrified.....I was going to lose my job, but I cared about the people we moved under false pretenses from Puerto Rico." She felt misled and used by Bain, and says the experience disgusted her so much that she has never worked in human resources since.

According to the New York Times, Bain and a group of investors bought Dade in 1994 with mostly borrowed money. They then extracted cash from the company, paying themselves nearly $100 million in fees for helping to run it. In 1999, Bain took $242 million out of the business, a transaction which benefited Romney even though he'd retired by then to run the Winter Olympics, according to a financial document referenced by the Times.

Hewitt says she did not know of Romney's involvement until contacted by reporter Michael Barbaro for the Times in November.

"Every time I see his ads talking about creating jobs, it just sickens me," she said. She says people need to "truly look beyond the rhetoric" to try to understand what happened to the employees at Dade. In her view, what Bain did was not free enterprise. "I support free enterprise. I support corporations succeeding because that helps us all. But you don't succeed at the expense of people who are building your profits and the communities that support your organization."

Randy Johnson worked at an American Pad and Paper (AMPAD) plant in Indiana that was bought by Bain Capital in 1994. After Bain took over, the company laid off workers, cut wages, slashed health care benefits and eliminated the retirement plan. After workers went on strike, Bain closed the factory and laid off 250 workers.

Unlike Hewitt, Johnson has been aware of Romney and has been talking about him since he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts in 1994. Johnson said that while the factory was still open and under Bain's control, he wrote letters to Romney directly as well as to the Boston Globe to try to get his attention. He said Romney didn't respond until the day the plant closed, when he faxed a letter to the union's office. "That told me something about the man's character right there," Johnson says.

Johnson says he still wants to see the balance sheets about how many jobs were created and how many were lost under Romney's leadership at Bain. "There are lot of questions there," he said. Romney has said that he created around 100,000 jobs during his tenure at Bain, although other critics, such as Sarah Palin, have also called on him to prove that figure.

Johnson said he doesn't begrudge Romney his $250 million fortune, but wants to see how he actually made that money. "Let's be honest. When you put profits before people you need to absolutely put it out there for everybody to understand."

The Democratic National Committee brought Hewitt and Johnson before reporters in Tampa, and had scheduled a later news conference on Sunday that was later cancelled. Randy Johnson says he's grateful that Romney's high-profile candidacy gives him a platform to tell what happened at AMPAD.

  • Cindy Hewitt and Randy Johnson said Bain Capital (led by Mitt Romney) destroyed their companies

Cindy Hewitt says she didn't know much of anything about Mitt Romney until a few months ago, but now she's determined to let people know what happened to her when Romney's private equity firm took over the company where she used to work, and why she thinks it's outlandish that he's campaigning as a job creator.

Hewitt worked at Dade Behring, the Miami-based medical-equipment company that Romney invested in as head of Bain Capital in the late 1990s — an investment which ultimately led 850 people to lose their jobs in Miami, and just as many at the company's other plants before Dade Behring ultimately went into bankruptcy.

Hewitt and Randy Johnson, another former employee of a company affected negatively by Bain Capital under Romney, told their stories to a handful of reporters in Tampa on Sunday at a news conference set up by the Democratic National Committee.

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