Tale of two businesses for Mitt's 'Burgh visit

Republican Mitt Romney is using a successful small business, Horizontal Wireline Services, as the backdrop for a rally Tuesday in Irwin, Pa., outside Pittsburgh. No doubt he will celebrate the young company, which services shale-drilling operations, and continue to press the attack on President Obama for showering federal stimulus money on political allies and donors.

Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO is hoping that people will spare a thought for those who used to work 25 miles south in Scottdale, at an American Pad & Paper plant – a piece of a company that went bankrupt after it was acquired by Bain Capital, the private-equity firm Romney founded.

When Bain bought American Pad & Paper from Mead Corp. for $40 million in a 1992 leveraged buyout 1992, the company had four facilities in Pennsylvania. In a much-discussed story of this election cycle, Bain loaded its new company with debt in trying to make a go of it (and pay its management fees); ultimately Bain liquidated its interests in 1999, claiming a profit of $102 million.

Romney’s role in Bain at the time of the company’s folding is in dispute. He has said he left active management of Bain in February 1999, though some Securities and Exchange Commission documents continued to list him as CEO of the private-equity firm until early 2002.

Ampad, with $182 million in debts, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2000.  According to the filing, it owed 65 mostly small Pennsylvania businesses a total of $1.45 million.

According to the bankruptcy trustee report, those creditor businesses received less than $0.002 on the dollar. JK's County Market, one such company cited by the AFL-CIO, got just $20.35 from the settlement, on a debt of $10,750.

Later Tuesday afternoon, Romney will be fundraising at the exclusive Duquesne Club in downtown Pittsburgh. MoveOn.org, the lefty activist group, says it plans to picket outside the club – and above it. The protest is to feature a “Romneymobile,” a Cadillac plastered with stickers of Romney’s corporate donors and a dog strapped to the roof. (Yep, it’s a reference to the two decade old story of Seamus, the Romney family dog, riding to vacation atop the station wagon.)

Overhead, a plane will tow a banner that reads, “Tricky Mitt: Release Your Taxes.”