In May 2007, during a global crackdown on offshore tax havens, an obscure nonprofit lobbying group in Northern Virginia sent a fundraising pitch to a law firm in one of the biggest tax havens in the world — Panama.
The Center for Freedom and Prosperity promised to persuade Congress, members of the George W. Bush administration and key policymakers to protect the players of the offshore world, where hundreds of thousands of shell companies had been created, often to hide money and evade taxes.
To reach out to American officials and fund its U.S. operations, the center said it needed an infusion of cash for an eight-month campaign: at least $247,000.
“We hope you can support this effort with a donation,” the center wrote in a document sent to Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of an international financial scandal known as the Panama Papers.
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In the eight-page fundraising document discovered by The Post, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity in Alexandria, Va., said that it had already persuaded the Bush administration to thwart an international effort to require more transparency from tax havens. Now the center was promising to derail similar reforms in legislation before Congress.
Among those it planned to contact: lawmakers, key figures in the Bush White House, the Treasury Department, the State Department and the Office of Management and Budget.
At the time, the center was leading a coalition of Washington’s most vocal anti-tax groups seeking to defeat the reforms.
The center said it counted “allies and friends in more than 50 countries” and had “a major impact on the international tax competition debate.” The document contained a contribution sheet with suggested gift levels ranging from $500 to $20,000, along with a routing number to the center’s Wachovia bank account in Northern Virginia.
The pitch, emails and other documents reviewed by The Post offer an inside look at how a little-known nonprofit, listing its address as a post office box in Alexandria, became a persistent opponent of U.S. and global efforts to regulate the offshore world. Led by two U.S. citizens — one an economist, the other a tax expert for a Republican congressman — the center met again and again with government officials and members of the offshore industry around the world, while issuing hundreds of funding pleas and peddling its connections to Washington’s power brokers.
The entire article is highly recommended for those wanting to dig into details and review good investigative journalism.Follow the money.