Skip to comments.Reidís Glass House (Even Democratic Senators have offshore accounts
Posted on 08/24/2012 6:30:17 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Good news for Senator Harry Reid: If hes a little bored while waiting for Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, there are plenty of other elected officials in his own party, to boot! who merit the same eyebrow-raising hes directed at the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. The Senate majority leader has expressed consternation about the fact that Romney has some money in offshore accounts, which probably reduces his tax burden. According to the Huffington Post, Reid quipped, Most Americans dont have the benefit of Swiss bank accounts or tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. And Gawker just published more than 950 pages of Bain documents related to Romneys offshore holdings, saying they detail his use of exotic tax-avoidance schemes available only to the preposterously wealthy.
Some of the preposterously wealthy Americans who do use such schemes include Senators Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), and John Kerry (D., Mass.). That should be music to Reids ears, since his transparency crusade might be a little easier to pull off within his own party.
He could start with Feinstein. OpenSecrets.org lists her as the seventh-wealthiest senator, with a net worth between $44 million and $94 million, according to her latest disclosure forms. And, just like Romney, she keeps a portion of it in offshore accounts. Her most recent reports say she has an unspecified amount (at least $1 million) held independently by the spouse or independent child in Coral Growth Investments, Ltd., in St. Peter Port, Guernsey. Guernsey, a tax haven, is a small island in the English Channel that early this year drew the ire of a British Labour-party leader for helping wealthy Brits dodge taxes. The California senator also has between $500,000 and $1 million in a fund called Cevian Capital II L.L.C. in Jersey, another of the Channel Islands. According to her latest forms, that holding generated between $15,000 and $50,000 in capital gains, interest, and dividends. Feinstein has another $1,000 to $15,000 in Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean off Madagascar that is an up-and-coming tax haven.
Like Feinstein, Richard Blumenthal is on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Also like Feinstein, he has funds sheltered from taxes $15,000 to $50,000 in a hedge fund in the Cayman Islands, to be exact. That might not sound like a huge number, but his most recent disclosure forms say he made $50,000 to $100,000 from the fund in capital gains, dividends, and interest.
Lautenberg appears to be in the same boat. The New Jerseyan is the fifth-wealthiest senator, with a net worth that, in 2006, was six times the Senates average. His most recent forms show that his wifes family has between $500,000 and $1 million in Port Louis, Mauritius. The money is in a real-estate private-equity fund that does its actual investing in India, and the earnings it generates are subject to taxes, as one of his representatives told National Review Online.
The Senators wifes family trust invested in a real estate fund that is fully transparent with a website and a reputable board of directors, and income on the investment is taxable, said the senators communications director, Caley Gray. Which makes them just like Mitt Romneys offshore investments. All Americans, including Romney and Lautenberg, pay applicable taxes on investments they report to the IRS, but often they deliberately set up these investments in places like Mauritius because these countries laws can help reduce their tax burdens.
Then theres John Kerry, the richest person in the Senate. He is considered wealthy because of the fortune of his wife, ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry, whose wealth came largely from her previous husband, Henry John Heinz III. The senators 2010 disclosure forms (the latest available online) show that she had at least $2 million in a fund in Guernsey at filing time. Kerrys communications director said that according to his 2011 returns, which arent online yet, the fund is no longer one of her assets.
Perhaps while Reid is lambasting Romney for his offshore accounts, he could find a moment to politely ask these colleagues to release their returns on the same grounds. And who knows? Maybe Reids anonymous source has some insight into the taxpaying status of Senate Democrats, too.
Betsy Woodruff is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.
Or in the case of Sen. Tom Harkin (Democrat-Iowa), he goes one better than off-shore bank accounts. He actually lives in Abaco, Bahamas when he’s not at his Alexandria, Virginia, home.
There’s only one reason for a sitting congressional representative to possess an “offshore account”...and that’s to surreptitiously sell off bits and pieces of the Constitutional constraints on federal power.
Gawker, which is run through the Caymans also, should be thrown in the discussion also when it comes to hypocrisy.