Obama’s Beach Bundler

Despite criticism, major campaign donor is Virgin Islands tax haven specialist

AP Images
February 29, 2012

One of President Obama’s major bundlers is a lawyer who helps her wealthy clients exploit the very offshore tax benefits the president has criticized.

Marjorie Rawls Roberts, a Virgin Islands tax lawyer who specializes in offshore funds, has committed to bundling at least $100,000-$200,000 for the Obama Victory Fund 2012. Roberts runs her own law firm, Marjorie Rawls Roberts, P.C., based in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). According to the firm, Roberts "specializes in the areas of tax, investment, and offshore funds."

Prior to starting her own firm, Roberts served from 1995 to 1999 as vice president and chief counsel for Globalvest Management Company, a "St. Thomas-based investment company managing approximately $1 billion in investments in Latin America and Russia through offshore funds."

A 2004 Northwest Arkansas Business Journal interview about residency in the Virgin Islands described Roberts' firm as "a private law practice...helping affluent clients access the tax benefits available in the USVI."

Obama has criticized individuals and corporations who use overseas tax benefits to avoid paying taxes. In a May 2009 White House speech, Obama described a U.S. tax code "full of corporate loopholes that makes it perfectly legal for companies to avoid paying their fair share."

"It’s a tax code that makes it all too easy for a number—a small number of individuals and companies to abuse overseas tax havens to avoid paying any taxes at all," Obama said in the speech.

Obama also pledged to help stop wealthy Americans from abusing offshore tax havens.

"Now, for years, we've talked about stopping Americans from illegally hiding their money overseas, and getting tough with the financial institutions that let them get away with it," Obama said. "The Treasury Department and the IRS, under Sec. Geithner's leadership and Commissioner Shulman's, are already taking far-reaching steps to catch overseas tax cheats—but they need more support."

A White House press release the same day confirmed Obama’s commitment to fighting against tax havens:

Today, President Obama and Secretary Geithner are unveiling two components of the Administration’s plan to reform our international tax laws and improve their enforcement. First, they are calling for reforms to ensure that our tax code does not stack the deck against job creation here on our shores. Second, they seek to reduce the amount of taxes lost to tax havens—either through unintended loopholes that allow companies to legally avoid paying billions in taxes, or through the illegal use of hidden accounts by well-off individuals.

Roberts did not agree to speak on the record with the Free Beacon. The Obama campaign did not return a request for comment.