Mayor Bloomberg’s Foundation Money Vacations in the Caymans

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Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mayor Bloomberg's foundation, the Bloomberg Family Foundation, does a lot of good things, like promoting global anti-smoking initiatives and work by the World Health Organization. It would do less of those good things if much of its money was subject to federal and local taxes, so maybe, in some ways, it's not so terrible that almost $300 million of the foundation's funds were routed through tax havens around the globe, such as the Cayman Islands, as the Observer discovered in a thorough review of the foundation's finances. The practice does, of course, deprive our government of revenue, which people might not appreciate if Bloomberg decides to run for president. And it certainly doesn't reflect well on Bloomberg that, even after warning of the dangers of pushing out the state's wealthiest citizens with higher taxes, he's using loopholes to dodge taxes himself.

Further sullying Bloomberg's philanthropy is the continuing involvement of Steve Rattner, the former Quadrangle founder who is being investigated by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for paying kickbacks to former state comptroller Alan Hevesi for contracts to invest part of New York's pension money. Quadrangle also managed Bloomberg's fortune until Hizzoner recently announced that a new, personal investment firm, run by many of the same Quadrangle employees, would take over that responsibility. But Rattner's troubles haven't stopped Bloomberg from putting him in charge of this new firm — out of loyalty to an old friend, aides claim. When reporters tried to ask Bloomberg about the tax loophole business earlier today, he played dumb. “I don’t know what they do with the investments. I have an agreement with the Conflicts of Interest Board that I won’t get involved,” he said, later adding, "You have to talk to the foundation." We guess we're supposed to believe that Bloomberg has no input in his own charitable foundation. He might as well have just said "Talk to the hand."

[Bloomberg’s Offshore Millions [NYO]
Bloomberg Said to Rely on Financier Under Fire [NYT]
What Happens in the Caymans Apparently Stays There » [Daily Politics/NYDN]