Wasserman Schultz’s investments show hypocrisy
Over the last week, Mitt Romney has received a storm of criticism over his personal wealth, including his off-shore bank accounts. This is in addition to the litany of ads being run by Team Obama and similarly-minded PACS hitting Romney for his time at Bain Capital and off-shoring (and, in some cases, for things that went on a Bain after Romney had left the firm).
Chris Barron probably said it best on Monday by pointing out that off-shore accounts have become the “new gay marriage.” That’s a interesting, yet profound statement. A few years ago, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) found himself in the middle of a scandal when it was alleged that he solicited sex in an airport restroom. The scandal was odd given that Craig frequently pushed the “pro-family,” anti-gay rights line. Craig eventually pled guilty to the charges and resigned from the Senate in disgrace.
Craig’s personal life would normally be irrelevant, but it is incredibly hypocritical for someone to preach a socially conservative agenda while at the same time engaging in the behavior they so frequently condemn.
And that brings us to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). In recent days, Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, has been among the loudest voices criticizing Romney for having off-shore bank accounts; even going so far to accuse him of illicit activity and questioning his patriotism. But guess who else has invested money in Swiss financial firms? None other than Debbie Wasserman Schultz, per The Weekly Standard:
Disclosure forms reveal that Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a member of Congress from Florida, previously held funds with investments in Swiss banks, foreign drug companies, and the state bank of India. This revelation comes mere days after the Democratic chair attacked presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for holding money in Swiss bank accounts in the past.
But disclosure forms reveal that in 2010, Wasserman Schultz invested between $1,001-$15,000 in a 401k retirement fund run by Davis Financial Fund. As the fund discloses, it is invested in the Julius Baer Group Ltd. and the State Bank of India GDR Ltd., as well as other financial, insurance, bank institutions.
“The Julius Baer Group is the leading Swiss private banking group, focusing exclusively on the demands of sophisticated private clients, family offices and external asset managers from around the world,” its website explains. “Bank Julius Baer is the principal operating company of the Julius Baer Group, with origins dating back to 1890. The rich Swiss heritage becomes manifest in the values for which the Bank stands, e.g. trustworthiness, accountability, discretion and expertise. However, at the same time Julius Baer is a modern, forward-looking company at the leading edge of a genuine growth industry.”
Similarly, according to disclosure forms from 2004, Wasserman Schultz had holdings in the Fidelity Advisor Overseas Fund. That fund is invested in HSBC bank (a British financial institution), Hengdeli Holdings (a Hong Kong watch company), Novo Nordisk (a Danish drug company), Volkswagen (a German auto company), Rakuten (a Japanese shipping business), Richemont Cie Financiere (a Swiss luxury goods company), and many others.
For what’s worth, I could not care less where Wasserman Schultz invests her money. I believe investment, no matter what country a particular firm is located, is a generally a good thing. However, if you’re going to criticize someone on a particular issue or activity, you’d better make sure that there is some sort of high-ground. While Wasserman Schultz can say whatever she wants, she can’t do so at this point without looking grossly hypocritical — much like former Sen. Craig — and further damaging her already poor credibility.