Politics

Does Brock Pierce live in Vermont? Answering ‘yes’ could cost the Senate candidate his Puerto Rican tax haven.

Brock Pierce speaks at a conference in 2016. Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Wikimedia (CC BY-2.0)

A cryptocurrency mogul’s flirtation with a U.S. Senate run in Vermont could cost him a generous tax decree in Puerto Rico that allows him to skip out on certain federal taxes.

Former “First Kid” and “Mighty Ducks” star Brock Pierce is the beneficiary of Act 22, a law passed on the U.S. territory in 2012 to coax the rich to relocate to the Caribbean island. The controversial decree offers a tax incentive seen nowhere else in the United States: the ability to maintain American citizenship while paying no taxes on passive income from capital gains, interest or dividends.

The catch? Those claiming tax exemptions under the law must reside in Puerto Rico at least 183 days a year. 

That could be a problem for Pierce, who filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission in November to run as an independent for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The requirements for a Senate run are governed by the U.S. Constitution, which states that Senate candidates must be inhabitants of the state in which they are running at the time of the election.

Pierce is leading the charge to remake Puerto Rico into a cryptocurrency utopia and has become a polarizing figure on the island. After months of pressure from local press, Puerto Rican officials in late May confirmed to El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper, that they were investigating whether Pierce had run afoul of Act 22 by moving to Vermont.

Despite filing paperwork with the FEC, Pierce has repeatedly said that he is still simply exploring a run for the U.S. Senate and not yet committed to actually appearing on the ballot. But Pierce has set up a website, filmed a campaign video, hired a local campaign manager and loaned nearly $600,000 of his own money to bankroll the campaign

It appears he has also purchased a $3.4 million mansion in Shelburne. A company incorporated in San Juan, Puerto Rico, called “Victory Party LLC,” bought a 16-acre property there in January. Registration documents filed with the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office for the LLC list a contact email address that links to Percival Capital, the investment arm of Pierce’s family firm. A mailbox outside the property is labeled “PIERCE.” 

The house is listed as a second home, not a primary residence, according to the Shelburne town clerk’s office. 

Pierce’s campaign has been evasive about the former child star’s residency status.

As recently as May 18, his campaign website implied that he now lived in the state. “Brock’s vision for the future and appreciation for the environment brought him to build a life with his wife Crystal and his children in Vermont,” it stated at the time, according to versions of the site archived on the Wayback Machine. That line has since been scrubbed.

Pierce campaign manager Ben Kinsley sidestepped a question about whether the would-be candidate lives in the state, telling VTDigger in an email that Pierce “owns a home in Vermont where he spends time with his family.” Pressed as to whether this meant he had established residency, Kinsley would only say that Pierce hadn’t yet made up his mind whether he would be on the ballot come November.

“If and when Brock decides to run we will be happy to address any questions along these lines,” he wrote.

Riley Robinson contributed to this report.

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Lola Duffort

About Lola

Lola Duffort is a political reporter for VTDigger, covering Vermont state government, the congressional delegation and elections. She previously covered education for Digger, the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire and the Rutland Herald. She has also freelanced for the Miami Herald in Florida, where she grew up. She is a graduate of McGill University in Canada.

Email: [email protected]

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