Documents: Top political donors used offshore tax loopholes
By THOMAS BEAUMONT
Nov. 08, 2017
Some of the nation's biggest political donors, including some who spent $60 million supporting Republican Donald Trump last year, are among those who took advantage of offshore tax loopholes, according to leaked corporate documents made public Tuesday.
The documents also name a top donor and former cabinet secretary for Democratic former President Barack Obama, and raise questions about whether the donor complied with ethics rules aimed at insulating officials' personal holdings and policy they oversee.
The findings come as Trump's former senior White House strategist Steve Bannon has condemned "corporatists and globalist elites" in his crusade to topple Senate Republican leadership by promoting challengers to virtually all incumbent Republicans seeking re-election next year.
The details on the donors were uncovered in a trove of nearly 7 million leaked files from the offshore law firm Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm that helps businesses and wealthy individuals find tax shelters. The so-called "Paradise Papers" were uncovered though joint reporting effort by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and media partners around the world. Here's a look at the donors named in the files.
The Las Vegas casino giant was the biggest donor in 2016, contributing more than $82 million to Republican candidates and organizations, though he was slow to endorse Trump. In July, 2016, he formally endorsed Trump and later contributed $5 million to the president-elect's inaugural committee. Adelson is the primary benefactor of the Republican Jewish Coalition. The files show Adelson is a shareholder in a Bermuda-based jet provider that provides services to his casino company, according to the report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Bermuda does not have a corporate tax on companies that do business outside its jurisdiction. Adelson did not respond to a request for comment from ICIJ.
CHARLES AND DAVID KOCH
The billionaire brothers, founders of the political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, budgeted roughly $900 million in contributions ahead of the 2016 campaign pursuing a pro-business, free-market agenda and candidates. And while no outside group has been move aggressive over the yearslong push to repeal Obama's 2010 health care law, the Kochs' concentrated their contributions on Senate races, often critiquing would-be GOP presidential nominee Trump. The leaked documents include papers describing the finances of Bermudan firm controlled by a Koch Industries subsidiaries, ICIJ reported. The company did not comment on the report.
Republican financier Robert Mercer is among the most devoutly pro-Trump donors named in the leaked documents. Until recently, he has had a financial interest in the pro-Trump Breitbart News website. Originally for Cruz in the early 2016 campaign, Mercer quickly pivoted to Trump when he became the presumptive nominee, and spent roughly $20 million on his campaign as one of the first major donor for Trump. Mercer has stayed involved as an ally of former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon, who is publicly rallying support for non-establishment Republican Senate challengers in 2018. Appleby documents show Mercer's Renaissance Technologies registered several subsidies in Bermuda, according to the report. Mercer declined to comment.
Pritzker, a Chicago investment firm CEO, was secretary of Commerce under Obama from 2013 to 2017. She was the wealthiest member of Obama's cabinet, with Forbes estimating her wealth at the time she was confirmed to the post at $1.85 billion. According to the report, Pritzker being named in the leaked documents prompts questions of whether she abided fully with federal ethics rules intended to keep government officials away from policy that could impact their personal finances.