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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Judge Releases Romney Testimony in Surrogate\'s Divorce

A probate court in Massachusetts unsealed 430 pages of testimony by Mitt Romney from 1991, when he was questioned during the protracted divorce proceedings of one of his campaign's top surrogates.

The Boston Globe sought access to transcripts of Mr. Romney's part in the case of Thomas Stemberg, the founder of Staples, and Maureen Sullivan Stemberg. When Ms. Stemberg sued to overturn the couple's 1988 settlement â€" arguing that Mr. Stemberg had understated the value of Staples stock â€" Mr. Romney was called to discuss the company's value and addressed its different classes of stock as head of Bain Capital, which had invested early in the office supply chain. Mr. Romney frequently points to Staples' success as evidence of his economic prowess, and Mr. Stemberg spoke at the Republican National Convention in August.

Although records from divorce proceedings from more than a decade had been impounded and the parties are not allowed to talk about them, the judge re leased transcripts of Mr. Romney's three court appearances when no one, including Mr. Romney's lawyer, objected on Thursday.

Even Gloria Allred, the high-profile lawyer representing Ms. Stemberg, acknowledged that the transcripts “don't mean much.”

That is, she added, “unless my client can speak about them.”

Ms. Allred was frustrated when The Globe dropped the second part of its request, which would have allowed both Stembergs to speak publicly about Mr. Romney and his role in their affairs.

“The Globe's only interest all along, as should have been clear to all parties, was to obtain the transcript of a presidential candidate's testimony,” said the paper's editor, Martin Baron, in a statement. It concluded, “The gag order is a matter for others to litigate, if they wish to do so.”

Ms. Allred has pledged to do so, hinting at a more dramatic conclusion if Ms. Stemberg is allowed to speak.