In a moment, I will admit just how naive I really am. But, read this, first:
Particularly jarring were the Romneys’ many offshore accounts. As Newt Gingrich put it during the primary season, “I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account.” But Romney has, as well as other interests in such tax havens as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
To give but one example, there is a Bermuda-based entity called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd., which has been described in securities filings as “a Bermuda corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney.” It could be that Sankaty is an old vehicle with little importance, but Romney appears to have treated it rather carefully. He set it up in 1997, then transferred it to his wife’s newly created blind trust on January 1, 2003, the day before he was inaugurated as Massachusetts’s governor. The director and president of this entity is R. Bradford Malt, the trustee of the blind trust and Romney’s personal lawyer. Romney failed to list this entity on several financial disclosures, even though such a closely held entity would not qualify as an “excepted investment fund” that would not need to be on his disclosure forms. He finally included it on his 2010 tax return. Even after examining that return, we have no idea what is in this company, but it could be valuable, meaning that it is possible Romney’s wealth is even greater than previous estimates. While the Romneys’ spokespeople insist that the couple has paid all the taxes required by law, investments in tax havens such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in “jurisdictions where there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,” as one Miami-based offshore lawyer put it.
That’s not the only money Romney has in tax havens. Because of his retirement deal with Bain Capital, his finances are still deeply entangled with the private-equity firm that he founded and spun off from Bain and Co. in 1984. Though he left the firm in 1999, Romney has continued to receive large payments from it—in early June he revealed more than $2 million in new Bain income. The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers. Again, the Romney campaign insists he saves no tax by using them, but there is no way to check this.
Bain Capital is the heart of Romney’s fortune: it was the financial engine that created it. The mantra of his campaign is that he was a businessman who created tens of thousands of jobs, and Bain certainly did bring useful operational skills to many companies it bought. But his critics point to several cases where Bain bought companies, loaded them with debt, and paid itself extravagant fees, thereby bankrupting the companies and destroying tens of thousands of jobs.
Here's why I would label myself naive--I would have thought that ALL of these offshore tax havens were long since closed or shut down. But, they're still in operation? They are still paying money to Romney and his family? Really? That's shocking. I never would have figured Romney for being that stupid. And how stupid do you have to be to hide that much money overseas given how easy it is for people to investigate and verify what's happening?
If you had told me that Romney was involved in this prior to the 2008 election--with everything having been closed in 2007 or so--I would have ignored this because, let's face it, Romney has been through two primary seasons and has been thoroughly "vetted" by his Republican opponents.
But, hold on here. This is actually news. The man who wants to be President of the United States has significant investments overseas in corporations that are shielded from U.S. tax laws. If but one dollar of his overseas income is improperly shielded or inadequately taxed, then this man should be under indictment. He has no business running for the presidency.
It's bad enough to see foreign governments flood the U.S. electoral process with donations; it's entirely something else for a man running for the presidency to hide tens of millions of dollars in companies overseas. This is criminal behavior more akin to someone without any ethics or belief in the American system of government than it is for someone who is sworn to uphold the Constitution.
What can we expect of a man with such ethics? More of the same? Lax treatment of his fellow tax haven offenders? A complete gutting of the tax laws?
If these things are true, Mitt Romney is a crook.