Does Richie Rich Even Qualify for the Ballot?

Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Vermont anymore

When last we considered Brock Pierce, former child actor, cryptocurrency skillionaire and newly-declared independent candidate for Pat Leahy’s seat in the Senate, we were comparing him to Rich Tarrant, another rich dude who thought he could waltz on in and grab an election all on his own.

Well, turns out there’s another parallel between the two tycoons. Like Tarrant, Pierce’s candidacy raises serious questions about legal residency.

Let us turn to the always reliable pages of the New York Post and an article about crypto fat cats who’ve adopted Puerto Rico as a tax haven. And there, right there, in front of his schmancy Caribbean pied à terre, is none other than Brock Pierce, “the de facto head of [Puerto Rico’s] crypto-championing movement.”

Why has the Isla del Encanto become a haven for newly-minted moneybags? Because of highly favorable tax laws that allow you to basically skirt American taxes without giving up your U.S. passport.

In 2019, as the island was desperately trying to recover from Hurricane Maria and the Trump administration’s purposefully addled disaster response, the government enacted a tax “reform” law aimed at attracting rich Americans by giving away the store. Deets:

Spend 183 days on-island each year, and you’re free of taxes on capital gains. If you operate a firm that exports its services from Puerto Rico — say, as a crypto consultant — you’ll pay a paltry 4 percent corporate tax rate. No wonder crypto types, already wary of centralized oversight and focused on cashing in fast and rich, have flocked here.

Yeah, no bloody wonder.

But wait. What’s that 183 days thing?

That would seem to rule out a candidacy for American elective office, right?

Now, the article doesn’t specify that the Richie Rich of the Modern Age is living in PR more than half the year. But that’s the central pillar of the tax avoidance strategy that Pierce has been touting to his fellow moguls-in-training. And this sounds like a real commitment, not a flight of fancy:

Pierce helped accelerate that move and now is like a one-man PR machine for Puerto Rico. The “Mighty Ducks” actor said he first fell in love with the island in 2014 and began plowing his crypto fortune — reportedly more than a billion dollars — into real estate and starting real-world businesses.

Sounds like more fun than spending the dark days of winter in some provincial backwater like, say, Burlington.

Also, as the Post points out, real estate on the island is cheapity cheap cheap thanks to that pesky hurricane.

That’s right. Our lovable lil’ scamp is not only evading his share of taxes, he’s also taking advantage of a storm-ravaged people. Gee, I don’t know why we wouldn’t want him representing us in the Senate.

But it appears that that issue will remain permanently in the hypothetical realm. Pierce has no chance at winning. And if he did, somebody would surely take the residency issue to court and remove all doubt.

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