EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

October 26, 2012

Editorial: Allred’s Romney sideshow amounts to nothing

It looks like attorney Gloria Allred’s big “October Surprise” that Democrats have been salivating for has about as much substance as billionaire birther Donald Trump’s “big revelation” that he would make a donation to charity in exchange for President Obama’s college records.

Allred and the Boston Globe have been in a Massachusetts court pressing for the release of transcripts from a 1990 lawsuit over the 1987 divorce of Staples founder Tom Stemberg and his wife, Maureen Sullivan Stemberg. Mitt Romney, Tom Stemberg’s friend and at the time CEO of Bain Capital, testified in the appeal. The judge yesterday ordered the transcripts released.

Supposedly, there was going to be damaging evidence in these documents that Romney committed perjury or some other dastardly misdeed.

What do the documents show? Nothing. They prove only what everyone in the financial world already knows — that initial public offerings of stock are volatile, unpredictable and risky affairs.

Among the Stemberg assets being split in the divorce were shares of Staples stock, at the time privately held. In a settlement reached in July 1988, Maureen Sullivan Stemberg received 500,000 shares of Staples stock valued at $2.25 per share.

By the time of the Staples initial public offering in April 1989, Sullivan Stemberg had sold off more than half her shares at prices under $2.50 per share. In the IPO, Staples shares were offered at $19 and closed the day at $22.50.

Since then, Sullivan Stemberg has cried foul, claiming that Stemberg cheated her out of the full value of the shares. Although, as the Globe reports, Stemberg told the Wall Street Journal in 1997 that, if his ex-wife had simply hung on to her shares, she would be among the richest women in Boston.

In 1990, Sullivan Stemberg filed a lawsuit over the settlement agreement. In 1991, Romney testified in that lawsuit that Sullivan Stemberg had received a fair price for her shares, based on what investors were paying for preferred shares at the time.

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