Public Policies Made Rogoff Rich


Alec Macgillis in The New Yorker details the history of public policy manipulations behind the great wealth of David Rubenstien and Alaska Dispatch owner Alice Rogoff.

alaska dispatch logo“At the White House, Rubenstein subsisted on vending-machine snacks, staying late enough to get his briefing papers at the top of Carter’s stack. “He was almost painfully shy,” Eizenstat told me. “He almost never spoke to the press. He kept his head down. He almost never spoke in meetings.” On his late shifts, Rubenstein got to know Alice Rogoff, an assistant to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, when she came by to drop off memos. They married in 1983; Rogoff is now an arts philanthropist and the owner of the Alaska Dispatch News, the state’s largest newspaper. (She lives part time in Anchorage.)”

“In 1986, Stephen Norris, a lawyer for Marriott, learned of a change to the federal tax code recently initiated by Senator Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska. It allowed Alaska Native corporations, created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, to sell their paper losses at a discount to companies that could use them to reduce their own taxes. Norris started a business that matched companies with Native Alaskans and persuaded Rubenstein to leave Shaw, Pittman and join him. In a single year, they brokered the transfer of a billion dollars in losses, earning at least ten million dollars in fees. In 1987, they were on the verge of another big transfer when the government closed that loophole. The episode became known in Washington business lore as the Great Eskimo Tax Scam.”

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