Mitt Romney says he didn’t inherit his parents’ money

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Multi-millionaire GOP candidate Mitt Romney says he built that wealth himself, “American style.”

Romney, the son of a corporate CEO, made his fortune running private equity firm Bain Capital.

But as a product of a wealthy Michigan suburb, a private prep school, and ultimately Harvard, Romney still faces charges of silver spoon privilege.

“I know Democrats want to pick on the fact that I got it right,” Romney said during a Republican presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina on Jan. 19, 2012, as he explained why he would wait. publish their income tax returns. “I’m not going to apologize for being successful.”

His father, George Romney, who ran the Detroit automaker American Motors Corp., was governor of Michigan three times and himself ran for president in the 1960s.

“I could have stayed in Detroit like him and got pulled over at an auto company,” Romney said during the debate. “I left alone. I did not inherit my parents’ money. What I have, I earned. I worked hard, American style.”

We were curious. Romney, the last of George and Lenore’s four children, received no inheritance on his way to wealth?

Romney’s words

We polled Romney’s campaign on his request.

“Mitt Romney’s success is built on his 25-year business career and the fact that he founded and ran one of the most successful private equity firms in the world,” spokesman Ryan said. Williams.

It wasn’t as useful as, say, a copy of her father’s will.

There was also no information about George Romney’s financial legacy in the many obituaries of the Michigan luminary, who died in 1995 at the age of 88.

But Mitt Romney himself addressed the issue, it turns out, in an interview with C-SPAN in 2006. Host Brian Lamb asked him why his father hadn’t given him an inheritance.

Romney replied, “Well he didn’t have as much as I think some people expected. And I got a check from my dad when he passed away. I shouldn’t say a check, but I inherited some funds from my dad. But I turned around and gave it to charity. In this case, I donated it to a school that Brigham Young University founded in his honor. … And that’s where his legacy ended. “

According to a short story from the George W. Romney Institute of Public Management at BYU, the family formed an endowment in 1998, a few years after George Romney’s death.

So, in Romney’s own words, he “inherited some funds” from his father. But he gave them away.

Why?

“I thought we had had enough of our own,” he said.

He probably did. By 1995, Romney had already led Bain Capital for more than a decade, where he made millions of money from wise investments. He resigned in 1999.

He now says it is worth between $ 190 million and $ 250 million.

How Romney Got Rich

“I left on my own,” Romney said during the debate. “… What I have, I earned. I worked hard, American style.”

So, while he ultimately did not enjoy an inheritance, we wondered: Did the wealth of Romney’s parents help build his own fortune?

There’s no evidence we’ve seen Romney’s parents helped him buy a career in business. But there were some benefits to Romney’s comfortable upbringing.

Romney started college at Stanford, where his “allowance” was large enough that frequent plane tickets could fly home to Michigan to see his girlfriend, Ann, according to a recently published book by Two. Boston Globe journalists, “The real Romney. “

After a two-year missionary trip to France, where he lived unceremoniously as he went door-to-door, he completed his undergraduate studies at BYU, where he married Ann in 1969. He was 22 years old. years old, his wife 19. His parents’ wedding gift? A car. Meanwhile, the students – who started a family a year later – lived in a modest basement apartment for $ 62 a month, Ann later told the Boston Globe. But they didn’t have to work.

“We were happy, we were studying hard. Neither of us had a job because Mitt had enough equity investments that we could gradually sell off,” she said.

When the couple moved to Boston so Romney could study business and law at Harvard, his parents helped them buy a house.

It’s unclear who paid for his education, but Romney wasn’t exactly a struggling student: enough money for plane tickets, a car as a wedding present, actions that kept him from working, help with buying a house.

What about that hard work he mentioned?

On his return from his missionary trip to France, he wanted to “accomplish important things”, according to a quote from The real Romney.

“I said, ‘Boy, I want to do something with my life if I can.’ So when I got home I was a much better student. “

At BYU, he graduated with top honors and delivered a speech at the graduation ceremony. He was accepted into a recently established double degree program in Law and Commerce at Harvard.

Of hundreds of classmates from Romney’s law and business schools at Harvard, only 15 graduated with the dual degree – which packed the courses required for both degrees in less time than earning them separately. Romney didn’t just graduate. He graduated with honors from law school and among the top 5% of his class in business school, according to The real Romney.

Its mere presence among the elite of MBA / JD holders has earned it a strong recruitment from the Boston Consulting Group. So even if he passed the Michigan bar in case he needed to return to his father’s state to work near the auto industry, it wouldn’t be necessary.

“(Romney) was an outstanding rookie with outstanding grades, and he was the very charming, sweet, handsome son of a former presidential candidate. So everyone was bending over backwards to get their hands on him,” he said. said Charles Faris, who was with Boston Consulting Group, according to the The real Romney.

When he started working with the Boston Consulting Group, “he worked hard,” Faris said.

The young father worked nights, weekends and traveled often, including frequent trips to Europe, the book says.

He was hired by Bill Bain at the consultancy firm Bain & Co., who eventually hired him to start Bain Capital in 1984.

There he did the business which greatly increased his wealth.

Our decision

Mitt Romney, arguing that he made his own wealth, said, “I did not inherit the money from my parents.

Indeed, he was already a rich man by the time his father, George, passed away in 1995. He received an inheritance but says he gave it. We do not have independent confirmation of this. But a family-funded endowment to BYU began in 1998 to support the George W. Romney Institute of Public Management, bolstering Romney’s demand.

Has Romney’s career benefited from having well-off parents? This certainly made it easier for him, their financial support allowing him to concentrate on his studies. But there is good evidence that he also worked hard to be successful, graduating with honors from BYU and Harvard, and building a reputation at Boston Consulting Group and Bain that ultimately catapulted him to wealth.

Romney was not entirely clear about the inheritance he gave when he said he “didn’t inherit any money” from his parents. But he’s right to say that such a gift was not the key to his success. We rate his claim as half-true.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article gave the bad decade for George Romney’s presidential race. He ran in 1968.


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