Non-transparency for President

July 3, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More

This article by Vanity Fair raises dozens of questions about how Mitt Romney made his money and how he keeps it from being taxed. This is a clinic in non-transparency. It is a story about off-shore accounts and high-priced accounting gymnastics. It is not a story about investing in straightforward businesses here in America. It is a chapter in the story of how financial services have destroyed respectable businesses over the last few decades. It is another chapter of the story of how systems are made complex so that only those with wealth can afford to manipulate the system and purchase opacity in the process.

There is no way Romney would have a chance to win the presidency, except that winning high office these days rarely has much to do with facts. Mitt didn’t earn his money anything like the way that an auto worker or a store clerk earns money. If each of us had an army of lawyer and accountants, maybe we would do what Mitt has done, but we don’t. Mitt is not one of us. He is Exhibit A on how to play the game by taking advantage of tax loopholes set up only for people like him. Mitt will be spending much of his time in this campaign trying to make it look like he is one of us. Mitt will be pouring gasoline on the culture wars. Mitt will be doing everything in his power to distract us from questioning whether his money is honest money.

Let the circus begin!


Category: Corporatocracy, hypocrisy, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Adam Herman says:

    I don’t think Mitt’s going to try to prove that he’s one of us. His main message has been that the incumbent is in over his head, and that he by contrast has the experience and record to make things better. It’s a vague message, but it has the virtue of being true to most voters and arguably true objectively: Romney’s resume is more impressive than Obama’s 2008 resume and he has a record of being a turnaround artist. Any other issue, like whether Mitt’s one of us or gay marriage, or even the health care bill, distracts him from his Clintonian “It’s the economy, stupid” message.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    At Common Dreams, Ben Adler has many more questions for Mitt Romney. Here are several of them:

    What is in Romney’s offshore accounts? He has sheltered much of his wealth in tax havens such as Bermuda, but he has not disclosed anything about those investments. For instance, Shaxson writes, “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.’ 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…. 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.”

    § Why is Romney still being paid by Bain Capital? He left the firm more than ten years ago. Given its varied investments, could the fact that he is still being paid by them create a conflict of interest in office? Shaxson writes, “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.”

    § Why has Romney opened foreign bank accounts, such as a Swiss account with $3 million that appeared on his 2010 returns but not his 2011 returns? How much has kept in offshore accounts in the past? Was he betting against the strength of the US dollar? How might such financial interests affect his policies as president?

  3. Adam Herman says:

    Those are fair questions to ask, but it should be stressed that Romney has complied with all legal requirements. This is akin to asking for John Kerry’s wife’s financial records, which he also refused to release, or his military records, which he only released selectively.

    If you wish, you are free to assume he has something to hide and accuse him of having something to hide. I see, and you see as well, a President who broke all his promises on transparency in far more important ways than personal finances. And since an election with an incumbent is usually 80% a referendum on that incumbent’s performance, he will probably fail to distract the public sufficiently to win.

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