Oregon members meet with Representative Blumenauer's office
Following the recent exposé dubbed the “Panama Papers,” members of the Main Street Alliance joined a bi-partisan grouping of more than 70 faith leaders, small business owners, local leaders, and public interest advocates from 25 states on Capitol Hill this week to urge lawmakers to support tax and transparency legislation that benefits small businesses, taxpayers, and vulnerable communities.
Advocating for legislation to make it harder to set up anonymous shell companies in the U.S. and to prevent offshore tax haven abuse, the event was organized by the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, a non-partisan coalition of over 100 small business, faith-based, anti-corruption, government watchdog, human rights, investor, labor, public interest, and global development organizations.
These issues are front-and-center after the massive “Panama Papers” leaks—a trove of more than 11 million documents from a Panamanian law firm obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investigation exposed the devastating toll that anonymous companies and offshore tax havens take on the world, highlighting the need for U.S. action.
The delegation participating in FACT's Bi-Partisan Tax and Transparency Fly-In Days included MSA members from 8 states, former Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-RI) and former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH) along with several ministers, rabbis, fellow small business owners, law enforcement officials, and local leaders.
Attendees will meet with their Senators and Representatives about the importance of the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act (H.R.4450, S. 2489) and the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (H.R. 297, S. 174)—two pieces of legislation that would crack down on the abuses exposed in the Panama Papers stories.
Attendees also attended workshops and a reception featuring speeches by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Former Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-RI), and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), in addition to former Treasury Special Agent John Cassara, Tim Richardson of the Fraternal Order of Police, Rabbi Menachem Creditor, and small business owner Crystal Mario.
Following the lobby days, MSA members penned letters to the editor and op-eds discussing corporate taxation and transparency to bring their message to the cities and towns that are home to their businesses.
One of the business owners in attendance, Rosalind McCallard, owner of Snackrilege, an Oregon-based vegan sandwich wholesaler had her editorial placed in The Hill, and offered the following reflection on the lobby day activities:
"When I was asked to come to Washington and represent not only my business but the Main St. Alliance, I immediately agreed. Although I wasn't entirely sure what specifically I'd be doing, I knew that it would be in line with both my personal and company values and that it would be an opportunity to have my voice heard. Saying no wasn't even an option.
After several days of training, educational seminars, and meetings with congressional staffers, I was joyfully affirmed in my decision to visit our nation's capital. This trip afforded me the opportunity for a multitude of new experiences (both personal and professional), and the opportunity to represent forward thinking small business owners.
I work hard to put into practice my ideals: fair wages, corporate transparency, and a just democracy. Being in Washington with FACT and the MSA gave me the chance to let our congressional leaders know how much these beliefs mean to me and my company."