Mike Bloomberg’s Offshore Tax Dodge Should Be Exhibit A in Obama’s Cooper Union Speech


The last time Barack Obama visited the Voice’s neighborhood, he and Mike Bloomberg were arms-around pals. That was March, 2008, and at the Great Hall at Cooper Union the then-candidate was talking about the need for new rules for the road for Wall Street and ways to block tax dodging by the big money boys — the same themes he’ll be hammering at today. Back then, the mayor was less interested in fiscal policy than his own chances of landing the number two slot on a Democratic or Republican ticket. He wasn’t picky which one.

That plan didn’t work out, but the mayor now has a new goal: to deep-six the President’s efforts to put Bloomberg’s Wall Street pals back under adult supervision. Obama’s not known for nasty digs but if he’s looking for a neat Power Point display for his speech this afternoon, he could start with a few pages from the IRS filing for Bloomberg’s family foundation which receives a wonderful airing in this week’s Observer.
The story details some $300 million in mysterious offshore, tax-dodging exotic locales where Bloomberg’s foundation has decided the best investments are found, from the Cayman Islands to Mauritius (apparently somewhere off the coast of Madagascar).

The Prez could do a great blow-up of Page 67 of the 2008 filing which reveals $1.3 million parked in a hedge fund that lists a post office box at something called Ugland House in Grand Cayman. As the Observer’s Aram Roston notes, Ugland is one big mail drop for some 12,000 to 18,000 foreign corporations looking for a friendly hideaway. The Observer even dug up a marvelous Obama quote about it from his 2008 campaign: “That’s either the biggest building in the world, or the biggest tax scam in the world. And I think we know which one it is,” he said then. He could also hi-lite the half-dozen hedge funds for which Bloomberg’s foundation people didn’t even bother to list an address, and where about half the mayor’s money is parked.

Of course, this is too much to hope for. Obama will say kind things about the mayor while making his sober case to avoid a new financial disaster. The mayor will sit in the front row, his crossed-leg bouncing off his knee impatiently as he watches someone whose job he desperately craves. He will later dodge questions about his interesting foundation investments the same way he did yesterday: “I have no comment. You have to talk to the foundation.” As the Daily News’ Celeste Katz notes, this is exactly how the mayor dodged tough questions all through last year’s reelection campaign (“You’ll have to talk to the campaign”).