Wealthy supporters of President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney contacted by The Washington Examiner are loath to disclose if they or their corporations use offshore or Swiss bank accounts.
The reluctance of campaign donors for both men to discuss their banking practices underlines a potential weakness of Obama's criticism of Romney for having funds in a Swiss bank account and other assets in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, according to political analyst Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia.
"This reminds me of the flap over private equity earlier in the campaign," Sabato said. "The reason so many Democrats defended private equity is because they've used it or benefitted from its largesse over the years, and they didn't want to be accused of hypocrisy," he said.
Obama had previously criticized Romney's claim that his experience as founder and head of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, better qualifies him to manage the national economy.
Obama and his campaign surrogates hint that Romney's overseas investments amount to tax evasion, even though it is legal for all U.S. citizens to invest in overseas accounts as long as they comply with relevant reporting requirements.
The pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA Action announced new TV spots to be broadcast during the Olympics that hammer Romney for holding Swiss and offshore accounts. But the TV spots say nothing about many wealthy donors to both presidential candidates having similar accounts of their own.
When asked by The Examiner, for example, Jack Rosen, an Obama bundler who has raised nearly $900,000 for the chief executive, refused to divulge if he ever held such overseas accounts.
But he defended the practice, saying, "There's nothing wrong with it if you follow the rules." He added, "If you're doing business in overseas markets, you don't have a choice."
Wealthy Romney supporters who run financial companies also would not comment about their overseas accounts. They included John Paulson, founder and president of Paulson & Co; Louis Moore Bacon, founder of Moore Capital Management; Paul Fireman, of Fireman Capital Partners; Sheldon Adelson, Chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp.; Kenneth Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel LLC; Lee Ainslie, founder and CEO of Maverick Capital; and Robert Mercer, co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies Corp.
Grosvenor Capital Management, one of the world's largest hedge funds, is run by CEO Michael Sacks, who also is a major Obama bundler. "Michael doesn't have any comment" on his private banking practices, a Sacks spokeswoman said.
A September 2011 statement from the Grosvenor Multi-Strategy Offshore Fund Ltd. describes one Sacks fund that is registered in the Cayman Islands. Its portfolio is valued at $541 million.
Another Obama bundler, John Emerson, CEO of the Capital Group, also declined to discuss his offshore or Swiss bank holdings. "We do not comment on private business matters of our associates," said Chuck Freadhoff, a company spokesman. "We're a global investment management organization and do business around the world."
Other big Obama donors who manage financial services companies refused to comment on their offshore or Swiss banking practices.
Among those were Jay Snyder, a principal of HBJ Investments; Blair Effron, co-founder of Centerview Partners; Raj Fernando, founder and CEO of Chopper Trading; Tom Wheeler, of Core Capital Partners; and Orin Kramer of Boston Provident.
Only Obama bundler John Roberts, CEO of Ariel Capital Management stated he never owned Swiss or offshore bank accounts. Ariel is a large mutual fund.