Republicans Have Some Questions About Jack Lew’s Investment History

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Jack Lew. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/2011 Getty Images

Treasury secretary nominee Jack Lew once invested some money in the Cayman Islands, and sources say Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee intend to bring that up during his confirmation hearing next week. Back in 2007, Lew, who was then employed by Citigroup, put $56,000 in a Citigroup-run fund with an address at the Cayman Islands' Ugland House, a "notorious tax haven" that President Obama called out by name in 2009. (The building is the registered address of over 18,000 companies.) Lew sold his stake in the fund at a losing price of $54,418 in 2010. The investment isn't exactly news to anyone: Lew faced a similar vetting process in 2009, when he was unanimously confirmed as deputy secretary of State, and again in 2010, when he was made the head of the Office of Management and Budget.

In a statement responding to GOP "concerns" about the matter, White House spokesman Eric Schultz wrote that, "Jack Lew paid all of his taxes and reported all of the income, gains and losses from the investment on his tax returns. He played no role in creating, managing or operating the fund." And — as was pointed out repeatedly during Mitt Romney's presidential campaign — there's nothing illegal about investing offshore. But now that the situation is reversed, the Republicans are going to take the opportunity to make the administration look slightly hypocritical. "President Obama has been almost obsessively critical of offshore investments," said GOP senator and committee-member Chuck Grassley on Friday. "That makes this Cayman Islands investment of his top official and now Treasury secretary nominee worthy of attention. The irony is thick."