Mitt Romney’s character will be called into question if explosive details of his sworn testimony at the divorce hearing of former Staples CEO Tom Stemberg are released to the public, it has been claimed.
Celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who has promised an “October surprise”, is in court in Canton, Massachusetts, today with Tom Stemberg’s ex-wife to reportedly attempt to unseal the case records and lift a gagging order on all parties involved.
The Boston Globe newspaper filed the application after reportedly receiving a tip-off that there was “juicy information about Romney” in the sealed documents. The revelations are said to involve allegations about a child custody matter.
At the hearing, Gloria Allred presented Mitt Romney and Tom Stemberg’s attorneys with copies of the presidential candidate’s testimony. They asked for time to review the documents before they decide whether to argue against releasing them, according to a CBS reporter in court.
But earlier today Mitt Romney’s lawyer Robert Jones told Time magazine that his client had no issues with the testimony being made public.
“This is a decades-old divorce case in which Mitt Romney provided testimony as to the value of a company,” he said.
“He has no objection to letting the public see that testimony.”
The court appearance comes as a string of online messages have surfaced from a commenter claiming to be Maureen Stemberg, 61, in which she unleashes a scathing attack on Mitt Romney and promises all “will very soon be revealed” – in a possible nod to Gloria Allred’s campaign.
She also refers witheringly to his wife as “Queen Ann” and lambasts both as out of touch.
In a series of unashamedly pro-Obama comments on the Huffington Post, a woman calling herself Maureen Stemberg writes: “He had a lot of bodies hidden in his <<personal and business life>>. Will very soon be revealed. When the door opens he and his team will be heading for the hills. Scary group.”
She claims she was married to “his partner in crime, Mr. Staples” – a close friend and advocate of Mitt Romney – and brands the presidential hopeful “deplorable”.
Mitt Romney reportedly testified about Tom Stemberg’s role as a father to his four sons from two ex-wives during court proceedings surrounding his “messy” divorce from Maureen in 1987.
RadarOnline.com quoted a source as saying: “Governor Mitt Romney gave sworn testimony about his observations of Tom’s role as a father to his four sons.”
And Maureen Stemberg apparently remains extremely bitter about his part in her divorce, posting last month: “I know the man and his wife. President Obama the only one to be our President!”
Maureen Stemberg also describes a time the Romney attended their house for a Christmas party and “tried very hard to be real”.
“I truly do believe he has a fear and dislike for anyone who has less than 99,000,000 [dollars],” she wrote.
“He just can’t relate and obviously Queen Ann is the same.”
A 2005 Boston Globe article reported that Maureen Stemberg received nearly 500,000 shares of Staples stock in the divorce, but sold half before the company went public, missing out on a huge windfall.
And while another Globe article the following year described her as living a comfortable lifestyle, she demanded that her ex-husband pay her more money.
Maureen Stemberg “sits in her $5,200 a month, 14th-floor, concierge-at-the-door, elegantly furnished Back Bay apartment and tells you she’s broke”, it wrote.
“She can’t work. She can’t afford a car, her medications, her rent, even the family springer spaniel, J.J., who she just gave away.”
“I’m going to be out on the street,” she said.
“I’ve had a change of circumstances.”
She now works as an interior designer based in Charelstown, Massachusetts and has had a couple of reportedly on-off relationships since her divorce.
The online messages and interviews apparently reveal her enduring bitterness about her husband and their divorce – and Mitt Romney’s part in it.
Maureen Stemberg even featured in a 2008 Lifetime documentary, The Maureen Sullivan Stemberg Story: A Portrait in Courage, in which she gave an “in-depth account … of the interweaving relationships and strange bedfellow that business has made in her life… which include Mitt Romney”.
Recent polls show Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are neck-and-neck two weeks ahead of the election and Gloria Allred’s claims may be perceived as the latest round in a tit-for-tat battle between supporters of the two candidates.
Tom Stemberg’s sons are in their mid-teens and early twenties. His divorce attorney, Joel Kozel is also expected to attend today’s hearing. It is not known whether Mitt Romney will attend.
Another source quoted on the RadarOnline said: “Ms. Allred’s client feels that the public needs to know about Governor Mitt Romney’s role in this very important case.
“Governor Romney is running for President of the United States and this goes to a very important character issue.”
Tom Stemberg, 63, has four sons from his two ex-wives, Maureen Sullivan Stemberg and Dola Hamilton Stemberg.
But the Globe reported on his “paternal shortcomings” in 2006, recounting a story about how, when Tom Stemberg lived with his second wife and their young children, he cut out his then 12-year-old son, Mac, with his wife Maureen.
It explains that he wrote to the boy: “It will not be possible for you to be part of our family in the foreseeable future,” because of the child’s supposed misbehavior during their divorce blaming the child for taking sides between parents and creating unbearable hassles, such as monthly court appearances.
Tom Stemberg’s links to the Presidential candidate are well documented. Mitt Romney’s hedge fund, Bain Capital, was an early investor in Staples.
Mitt Romney was a director of the firm for over a decade and some 90,000 of the 100,000 private sector jobs he has boasted of creating are through stationary retailer.
During a speech given at the Republican National Convention last summer Stemberg praised the Massachusetts Governor saying: “He never looked at Staples as merely a financial investment.
“He saw the engine of prosperity it could become. Today Staples employs nearly 90,000 people.
“It has over 2,000 stores, over 50 distribution centers, and it is part of a competitive industry that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses get started on their own.”
And during an interview with PBS’ Frontline earlier this year Tom Stemberg described his first meeting with Mitt Romney.
He said: “When you first walked in and saw Mitt, he looked like a guy who ought to be president of the United States.
“This guy, he looked perfect; he dressed perfect; he spoke perfectly. He asked the most poignant questions in a very, very nice way and didn’t make you feel defensive and really drew the best or worst out of you. He was just really, really good.”
Tom Stemberg described Mitt Romney as being “no shrinking violet” and said he hadn’t been concerned when his friend entering politics running for governor of Massachusetts.
“Nobody pushes Mitt Romney around. Having said that, if there’s one person whom he will almost always defer to, it’s Ann Romney,” he added.
Conservative blogger Matt Drudge fuelled talk last week that Gloria Allred was up to something when he tweeted: “Here she comes. Hearing Gloria Allred out there again, about to make a move. After all, it’s her time of the campaign. Team O at the ready!!”
Several news organizations had speculated that the case could involve Mormon women whom Mitt Romney advised on family matters while he was bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gloria Allred has a long history of trotting out female clients who claim to have revealing and damaging stories about high-profile men.
One of Gloria Allred’s most famous clients includes a woman who accused former Tea Party presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual assault.
Another famous client includes a woman who claimed California GOP candidate Meg Whitman knowingly employed her as an illegal immigrant housekeeper.
Some conservative bloggers appear concerned about what Gloria Allred might expose.
The New York conservative blog, The Red Side of Life, demanded Mitt Romney supporters “stop her now”, adding “we’re doing too well to risk an Allred”.
“Gloria Allred Prepares Anti-Mitt Strike You Can STOP Her Now! (action!) Don’t underestimate Gloria Allred’s ability to inflict damage,” the website reads.