Jack Lew, the man President Obama nominated to be the new US Treasury Secretary, had overseas tax-sheltered investments, the same transgression that Mitt Romney was harshly criticized for during the 2012 presidential election campaign.
One difference is that Romney had turned over his assets to a blind trust, and the trustee was making the foreign investments.
According to The Hill, “The Obama campaign also railed against Mitt Romney’s offshore holdings during the presidential campaign, cutting advertisements that mocked the Republican nominee for a Swiss bank account and holdings in the Caymans and Bermuda.”
Yet it also turned out that many prominent Democrats who blasted Romney, such as Debbie Wasserman Schultz, also had overseas investment accounts.
In the case of Treasury nominee Jack Lew (who some are calling Jack “Lewphole”), the money was in the Cayman Islands, according to the New York Times.
” As recently as 2010, Jack Lew, President Obama‘s nominee to be the next secretary of the Treasury, had $56,000 invested in a CitiGroup venture capital fund based in the Cayman Islands’ notorious Ugland House, a building whose mailboxes are home to nearly 19,000 corporate entities, many of them tax shelters.”
According to Reuters, Lew also received nearly $1 million in bonus money from Citigroup “just before the bank received a taxpayer-funded bailout.” At that time, Lew was getting to leave his Citigroup job and go to work for the Obama administration.
Lew’s confirmation hearing in the US Senate is scheduled for Wednesday. US Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said that “the irony is thick” when it comes to Jack Lew’s Cayman Islands investments:
“President Obama has been almost obsessively critical of offshore investments. He called Ugland House ‘either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.’ That makes this Cayman Islands investment of his top official and now Treasury secretary nominee worthy of attention … Members of the Finance Committee will question Mr. Lew about his foreign investments at the hearing.”
The White House claims that Lew paid all appropriate taxes on the foreign account and also disclosed the existence of the account when he was up for prior federal government jobs.
Sen. Grassley disagreed, suggesting that Lew’s Cayman Islands investment was buried in the fine print of disclosure documents:
“On the White House claim that Mr. Lew previously disclosed his Ugland House investment, it was disclosed only if you knew where to look and then were able to put the pieces together. To say this information was fully disclosed to the public is misleading, at best.”
As the potential Treasury Secretary and IRS boss, do you think Jack Lew should receive the same level of criticism for his Cayman Islands tax shelter as was heaped upon Mitt Romney? Do you think it’s okay for high-level members of both political parties, or politically connected companies like Google, to invest overseas to minimize their own tax liabilities?