Romney Testimony on Value of Staples Stock in Divorce Case Released

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High-profile attorney Gloria Allred and the Boston Globe successfully argued to a Massachusetts judge that testimony that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave in 1991 regarding the value of stock in the office supply chain Staples should be released. The testimony was given during the divorce proceedings between Staples chief executive Tom Stemberg and his then-wife, Maureen Sullivan Stemberg. Romney's firm Bain Capital was at that time a major investor in the company, according to reports by the Washington Post and other media outlets.

The judge complied with Allred's request on Thursday, but did not grant requests that the gag order restricting Sullivan Stemberg's ability to comment on the case be lifted. Allred had told the media that Romney's testimony would be important as the presidential campaign season comes to a close, according to the Washington Post report.

Here is some of the key information regarding Romney's testimony and its potential political impact.

* At issue is whether or not Romney gave a purposely low estimate on the stand of Staples' stock value in order to ensure that Stemberg would be allowed to give his wife a smaller settlement payment, according to the Washington Post.

* The New York Times pointed out on Thursday evening that Stemberg spoke at the Republican National Convention in August, and that Romney has frequently used the story of the office-supply chain's success as "evidence of his economic prowess" while on the campaign trail this year.

* Lawyers for Romney reportedly did not object to the release of the transcripts, which cover in detail the manner in which Bain Capital sought to assess the risks involved in investing in a startup company, which Staples was at the time.

* The testimony took place over three days in 1991, after Sullivan Stemberg filed a suit seeking to overturn the original 1988 decision in her and her husband's divorce, alleging that the stock value of the company had been deliberately downplayed.

* According to the Associated Press, Romney did admit during his testimony that he and other investors created "a special class of company stock" as a "favor" to Stemberg during his divorce.

* Reuters was among the outlets that assessed that, despite Allred's claims that the testimony would prove to be politically harmful for Romney, there "appeared to contain little likely to damage the candidate's chances in the Nov. 6 general election."

* Allred told the New York Times and other outlets on Thursday that the transcripts of Romney's testimony "don't mean much" on their own, but would be far more damaging if the judge had agreed to lift the gag order on her client to allow her to discuss them with the public.

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