I’d like to hear the folks who hold Barack Obama accountable for the long-ago crimes of Bill Ayers explain why Mitt Romney isn’t accountable for the much more recent crimes of his business partner.

Turns out, the former Wal-Mart CEO who helped shut down an investigation of bribery by store officials in Mexico is an operating partner at a private equity fund started by Mitt Romney, his eldest son and his campaign finance director.

Don’t forget just how ugly this is. When a Wal-Mart official in Mexico reported that the company had been engaging in a massive campaign of bribery to get store permits, Romney’s partner Scott, as Wal-Mart CEO, ordered the investigation shut down, criticized the investigators for excessive zeal, and returned the files to Mexico, where the “investigation” was under the control of one of the bribe-payers.

Scott is legally vulnerable. As he said in 2007,

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is the only act that requires the incarceration of the CEO. And we are not going to do that.

Perhaps he meant, “We’ve done that once, and we’re not going to do it again.”

Wouldn’t this be a good time for Senate Democrats to push a bill repealing the “facilitating payments” exemption from FCPA? Either the Republicans vote Yes, or they vote No. A win either way.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.