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June 13, 2016

Panama Papers Show Nonprofit at Heart of Tax-Haven Debate

The Panama Papers, the leaked trove of documents detailing a massive network of shell companies used by business moguls, heads of state, and international criminals to shield assets, also reveal the role of an obscure Washington-area nonprofit in lobbying to protect offshore tax havens from regulation, The Washington Post writes.

The Alexandria, Va.-based Center for Freedom and Prosperity sent an eight-page fundraising pitch in 2007 to Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm whose leaked records ignited a global furor earlier this year. The center sought a six-figure donation from the firm to help it lobby Congress and policy makers against enhanced regulatory scrutiny of offshored assets.

The center is led by Daniel Mitchell, a libertarian economist, and Andrew Quinlan, a former Republican Congressional staffer. The Post article details the history of the organization, which includes 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) arms. “As an advocate of limited government, I want to make it hard for governments to collect more money,” Mr. Mitchell said. The center and an affiliated foundation raised at least $1.4 million from 2003 to 2010 but has seen fundraising fall off in recent years, according to tax filings.