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Opinion: October Surprises

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The October surprise—a classic move that happens every election—is something that is revealed about one of the candidates that some people believe will change the entire outcome of the election. This year, it is more like the October dud for both candidates.  Romney’s surprise was the one that was blown out of proportion.

Gloria Allred, a nationally known celebrity lawyer, asked for the documents from the Stemberg divorce case to be unsealed Oct. 25.  Her reasoning is the following: Romney helped out Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples, in his divorce case with Maureen Sullivan Stemberg by creating a special share of stocks, or at least that is what Allred is claiming.  What really happened was released in The Boston Globe: Stemberg divorced his wife in July of 1988. Maureen Sullivan received 500,000 shares in Staples stock at $2.25 per share. Romney testified in June of 1991, when Sullivan sued Bain Capitol, saying that he believed this was a good price to sell securities. Barely a year after the divorce and Sullivan selling more than half of her shares, Staples made its initial public offering on April 28, 1989 at $19 per share and ended the first day at $22.50 per share.  Stemberg, holding 567,000 shares, made $12.8 million while Sullivan, with her remaining 245,000, made $5.5 million.  Sullivan lost out on millions by selling her shares at a lower price in 1988.

Allred is representing Sullivan in this case to help Sullivan get the word out about Romney and her ex-husband. Romney’s lawyer Robert Jones told Time Magazine, “This is an old divorce case where Romney testifies as to the value of a company.  He has no objection to the public seeing the testimony.”  Allred says, “the public has a right to know what Romney’s testimony under oath was and so that is why we are here.”

Allred has yet to realize that if Romney has zero objection for the public to see the testimony, then the element of the October surprise is completely lost.  Romney’s testimony is just giving advice to Sullivan on when to sell the shares. It was also a few months after the divorce.  With Bain Capitol’s investments in Staples, Romney and Stemberg had a very good business relationship as well as a very good personal relationship.

Allred, apparently, has worked on cases like this in the past.  Allred was the lawyer who represented the woman who made sexual harassment allegations against former presidential candidate Herman Cain in 2011.  She also represented a woman who made claims that former California governor candidate Meg Whitman hired her as a housekeeper illegally and then fired her just before the election in 2010. For the third year in a row, Allred believes she has election-changing evidence against a candidate.

Allred is the reason that lawyers have a bad connotation.  She takes any lead that she can get and turns them around to make some person in power look like a terrible person.  She needs to get her facts straight and know what she is talking about before she lets her clients make these ridiculous allegations.  Allred is the center of bombshell celebrity court cases that end up being a publicity stunt. This apparent October surprise has turned more into an October stunt.

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