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Mitt Romney: To Whom Will the Off-Shore President Sell Off America?

If elected, Willard “Mitt” Romney would be the first President in U.S. history who has routinely bet against his country. Beyond the off-shore bank accounts in the Caribbean that would make Black Beard blanche, the Romney campaign may be raising back-door money from foreign nationals.

What does that buy? Huge political influence by way of a share in the office of President of the United States of America,  the leader of the free world.

Who better but Romney, one of the most successful corporate raiders in history, to stand on the podium as President of the United States and preside over its economic dismantling, much as he did at American factories for so many years with Bain Capital?

Sounds extreme? Look carefully at who takes an interest in Mr. Romney.

It’s bad enough that Romney owes Karl Rove neocons. The dark Libertarian Koch Brothers and their secretive pals, who opposed Romney in the primaries, are doing mega fundraisers to exert their significant influence over the GOP.  We now have to worry what Willard will owe those off-shore interests as well.

Is Romney Violating Supreme Court Mandates on Foreign Giving?

In spite of clear Supreme Court prohibitions on foreign giving in a ruling in January [1], Mitt Romney will hold two fund raisers in London. One in Israel was scrubbed because the Romney campaign dropped it on a national religious holiday [4].

The pass of the British bowler before the Olympics will be at a pair of $25,000 to $75,000 a plate dinners,  and a couple of $2,500 per person pre-dinner receptions. [2]

At Romney’s side in London will be Patrick Durkin, Barclays Bank’s head lobbyist in Washington. Bob Diamond, the CEO of the bank, was forced to bow out after pressure from British regulators forced his resignation from the banking giant last week.

They will be joined by wealthy executives from Goldman-Sachs’ international arms, and senior officers of China’s Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, better known as HSBC, among others.

The Romney campaign has gone into Koch-like stealth meeting mode, with the 47 hosts named for the event sworn to secrecy as to who will attend.

Invitations remind guests that they must have copies of their US passports in order to prove that they are eligible under US election law to donate to the Romney campaign.

Since most large world conglomerates like banks and oil emirates have U.S. offices or American-born executives, it will not be hard to skirt the letter of election law for international corporate givers.

In London, particularly known for its lax corporate enforcement, it is unlikely that any of their regulators will be checking donations versus attendees for an American political fundraiser. Likewise there will be no careful Federal Election Commission scrutiny or other American oversight or cross-check of the donors to attendees of these fundraisers abroad.  It is, effectively, a free-for-all.

A group of ex-patriots called “Republicans Abroad” and Bain’s European arm are the major organizers of the London events.  Members of the London office of Romney’s law firm Ropes & Gray, that manages his money,  also expected to attend.

In Israel, Romney’s fundraiser was expected to be a $60,000 a plate dinner, a joint fundraiser with the Republican National Committee (RNC) there were the max donation is again $75K. Many Israelis hold dual citizenship with the United States. Skirting the Supremes’ intent would not be difficult. [3]

John McCain had a much smaller similar funder in 2008, which was also prior to the Supreme Court’s January ruling strictly prohibiting foreign donations in American elections.

A Lack of Outcry

If President Obama had resorted to overseas donations, Fox, CNN, and every major news network would sport Tehadi congressmen howling about how Obama was selling our country to foreign nationals. Donald Trump would have the Birthers in full rabid foamy froth.

Thus far, there has largely been silence in the television media, and only a handful of American and British newspapers are giving any critical coverage to Romney’s foreign funds forays that would seem to violate the Supreme Court’s January ruling in Bluman, et al., v. Federal Election Commission.

Back Door International Giving

This won’t be the only way that foreign money leaks in, though. Wealthy patrons from the extreme Right RINO hunting Club for Growth, along with Dead Billionaires like the Kochs can channel foreign money into the Far Right’s outspending of the Democrats through dozens of shadowy holding companies and straw-man American businesses and individuals who can now give unlimited sums.

We worry about a guy on food stamps buying $300K worth of arms for the Mexican drug cartels, but a similar political shill can bring in far more, with almost no scrutiny, thanks to Citizens United.

The Whys of Mr. Romney’s Off-Shore Bank Accounts & Investments Need Further Exposure

Obama campaign honcho David Axelrod making Romney’s off-shore bank accounts a big deal, brought the Republican nominee’s finances to the center of the news cycle for the past week.

The WHY of  someone who aspires to be the next President of the United States putting his money into Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere, though, blends into the bigger picture of Mr. Romney’s off-shore fundraising.  The questions surrounding his off-shore holdings only magnify when one considers the possibilities of WHY he keeps the money there, and who will be attending his fundraisers overseas. Consider the possible reasons for keeping money off-shore:

  • Tax evasion - Always a popular reason for keeping money in the shadows. Money made off-shore that takes a holiday in the Caymans avoids the maker that is a U.S. Citizen from paying U.S. taxes on it;
  • Regulatory/Ethical evasion - Want to invest in Cuba? In Iran?  Blood diamonds from Africa? Slave mining in Azerbaijan? There are lots of places in which American citizens and companies are prohibited from doing business. Deals that would look highly improper for an American politician running for President to be involved in. Working out of the Caribbean or Switzerland could allow a politician to do business via third parties and proxies with dictators and enemies of the United States. From Putin to Ahmadinejad, the Saudis to the Chinese government, a politician so inclined could make deals while in office as President, and rake in millions with impunity.
  • Non-Disclosure - By placing millions away from the prying eyes of political disclosure laws, you won’t have a clue as to how rich a candidate might be. Romney’s wealth is estimated at up to $250M [1], but there may be  significantly more hiding in the Caribbean and elsewhere.  The money itself is just a number. How he earned the rest of it that is “off the books” would be a topic that Americans have a right to know about their next proposed leader.  In spite of the limited releases of financial information during the Republican primaries, Romney has been reluctant to engage in complete disclosure, as his father George did during his presidential bid.
  • Privacy - Some people like to live modestly and do not want other people to know how much they have. The Romneys are fairly conspicuous consumers, though, so it seems less likely that the “just folks” justification works.
  • Betting Against America - At the very least, Romney has made currency bets against the U.S. dollar by way of his overseas investment arms. One wonders what will happen for these accounts and those of his rich friends when he potentially might wield Presidential influence over the future of the dollar, defense spending, and trade.

For Romney, the rationale to off-shore is a little of all of the above. Vanity Fair did an exposé of the Caribbean adventures of Mr. Romney. In it they report:

“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.”

His deals and retirement with Bain Capital, the spin off of Bain & Co. that he co-founded, produce an even more tangled web of off-shores. VF reports that Romney has interests in at least 12 of the 138 off-shore “funds” which Bain has organized in the Cayman Islands.

His tax returns, released reluctantly when Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich called him out during the primaries, include 55 pages full of income from foreign entities, even though some, like his Caribbean deals, are not directly reported on his personal income tax statement, as they are “sheltered” by trusts or other means.  There was a $3M Swiss bank account that disappeared in 2011.

Romney and his wife paid just $6.2M on $42M worth of income, 14.76% because the very wealthy can take their earnings in stock instead of wages.  Had he been paid this as a salary, the tax would have been $14.7M, more than double what he paid.

Romney has an IRA that, by government rule, he probably never qualified to open. Even if he did it early in the game, at $2,000/year, or he used a different plan that would allow up to $30K a year, how does he have $102M in that account, as the records show? Speculation is that he put the money into Bain’s high yielding “A” shares that brought in staggering returns off of even “modest” investments.

Okay, so Willard follows the tax law as it’s written. He won’t pay a dime more, as he’s noted in the past.  Most of his money, now that he’s a politician, is in a “blind trust” in his wife’s name, run by his attorney, Bradford Malt.

How blind is the trust, though, when it deposits $10M into Solamere Founders Fund, which is run by son Tagg and Spencer Zwick, Romney’s top campaign fundraiser?

Robbing the Third World

The Romneys’  blind trust also has a minimum $1M investment in Elliot Associates LP, a hedge fund that buys up distressed assets from lenders to junk credit governments, largely in Africa, for pennies on the dollar. They then lean on the new governments of recovering nations receiving World Bank assistance and other restorative funding, with lawyers who get three and four times the recovery, largely out of funds that were designed to restore economies and get the citizens of these countries back on their economic feet.

Sometimes the government being squeezed, as in the Congo, is a new post-dictator democracy. The dictator has walked off with hundreds of millions. The new government then has to pay out to the secretive hedge fund run by Romney pal Paul Singer, also a big giver to Romney’s election ambitions. The money destined for the people fuels the boats of guys like Singer.

Romney doesn’t list how much beyond the million in any of these semi-public disclosures, and says that the fund managers of these enterprises are unwilling to release the data. Convenient.

Shouldn’t someone running for the Presidency of the United States divest themselves of those kind of assets?

Isn’t it a huge conflict of interest for Romney to invest in a hedge fund that can benefit from American political influence in that region that would be directed by a chief executive that also has a vested financial interest, blind or no, in squeezing starving countries already raped by their rapacious dictatorial leadership of old?

The Sunset of America & the Sunrise of International Corporate Hegemony

Political ambitions aside, most folks, other than perhaps Mother Theresa, are first and foremost about what it takes to make their money. Politician. Corporate CEO.  Drug Cartel Jefe. Money is what makes the world go around. Exploiting others to get it has been the m.o. of the world’s wealthy since the dawn of time, and Mitt Romney, who ran no real business other than a packaging and dismantling operation at Bain, is an exploiter.

This is the decade where America, after more than a dozen years of self-absorption and shadow wars with terrorism has generated little growth in gross domestic product (GDP), what we actually make and sell.

In the last decade, the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP), what we really “make” went from a $3.8T to a $3.9T.  The Teahadis of Congress have spent the last two years fiscally foolishly, passing hundreds of empty social legistlation bills from abortion to anti-Union bills to bills impairing the rights and needs of women and minorities.  They mindlessly destroyed our credit worthiness by gridlocking the government and causing cancerous doubt on our greatest asset, our word that we would always make things fiscally right.

Meanwhile the Chinese are moving from $440B of GDP towards $3.7T, just a stone’s throw from our economic might.

While we stick our head in the sand about Global warming, and building next-generation power sources, China and India are building next generation solar and wind energy.  They’ve been actively courting commerce in Africa, which they’ve spent a decade or more grooming. China will do business with India and most of Asia, home of the most populous nations on Earth, that only a handful of multinationals domiciled in the U.S. will be able to compete against.  There is no guarantee, either, that big multinationals, from G.E. to GM, have to stay domiciled in this country if financial interests in Asia slowly acquire them and move them abroad.

Romney stands to help his foreign friends carve up the greatest assets in the world to feed to the international corporate wolves.

What is clear: Mr. Romney is a global corporate citizen first, American second. One must wonder what other bets he will make against America on behalf of his friends in the global corporatocracy.

You would have to be an idiot to think that a man such as Mitt Romney, who has made his millions over the last few decades purely on the calculation of what’s in it for him, who has sold American business down the road to multinational corporations and to foreign currency traders with ease, is going to change his spots.

He is a straw-dog patriot that is being paraded in front of the TV mind-numbed by borderless rich super-elites with no care for the common man or what is left of America after they’re done exploiting it.  The 21st century Robber Barons.

Mitt Romney told the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) meeting yesterday:

“I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African-American families, you would vote for me for president,” said. “I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color — and families of any color — more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president.” [1]

Mitt Romney has no heart. He’s a soulless corporate raider whose only truth is achieving his objectives, and those of the people whose millions will pull his strings as President.

The only shred of truth in his statement to the NAACP is that he may indeed help “families of color — and families of any color.”

They’ll be in India, and Indonesia, where they work for .10 on the dollar, but he will probably help them take what is left of the industrial base of this country.

Once the unions are gone, the social safety net of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Obamacare is gutted, and the middle class slides backward into the new world order that makes us more compliant, cheap labor again,  Mitt Romney and his friends at Bain will have enriched themselves to levels that will allow them to retire in a comfort that the rest of America, politically strip-mined, will never enjoy.

You saw what the Republicans did to the economy in 2009.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice?

My shiny two.

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About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian and short filmmaker who blogs for Truth2Power, the Huffington Post, and the Daily KOS, among others.

3 comments on “Mitt Romney: To Whom Will the Off-Shore President Sell Off America?

  1. Pingback: Romney Would Accelerate America in the Rearview Mirror « truth-2-Power

  2. sue masiello
    July 15, 2012

    Both campaigns are raising money abroad. Obama has fundraisers in Paris and Geneva with George Clooney as the draw – also one in China, I think. The fundraising is completely legal as only donations from US citizen are accepted. Lots of Americans live overseas…

    • Brian Ross
      July 17, 2012

      The problem, Sue, is that Romney is bringing in big Chinese banks like HSBC, and other large corporates, not just American nationals. He is flaunting the edge of the law in a place where no one will check. He has a cloak of secrecy over the whole event. If he is just doing American expatriates, he shouldn’t need that, now should he? John McCain didn’t in 2008. Transparency is the difference. Thanks for reading.

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