The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Dan Balz's Take

Cast of Characters

Senior UBS Official, Key Donor Shares Some of Obama's Down Time

President Obama tees off his round of golf Monday as, from left, his friend Eric Whitaker, presidential aide Marvin Nicholson and UBS Americas president Robert Wolf await their turn. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon).

By Michael D. Shear
MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Mass. -- One of President Obama's golfing buddies Monday was a top donor to his campaign and the president of a bank at the center of a U.S. investigation into illegal tax shelters.

Robert Wolf, the president of UBS Americas, a Swiss-based bank, joined Obama at the elite, and difficult, Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs. Deputy press secretary Bill Burton described the two men as "friends."

According to news reports, Wolf and Obama met late in 2006 as the then-Illinois senator was about to launch his presidential bid. Wolf raised more than $250,000 for Obama's presidential bid, according to a Post report last year.

But Wolf's firm was caught up last year in a Senate probe of financial firms that attempted to shield millions of dollars in offshore accounts from U.S. taxes.

Last August, the Post reported, "The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations completed its report on UBS's role in helping wealthy investors shield money from federal taxes. Bank spokeswoman Rohini Pragasam said the donations were "categorically not
connected" to the Senate inquiry. The bank also is under scrutiny by the IRS and the Justice Department."

Just last week, though, the bank announced a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service. In a release, the bank said the settlement will affect about 4,450 accounts, adding, "UBS will send notices to affected US persons encouraging them to participate in the IRS's voluntary disclosure practice."

"This agreement helps resolve one of UBS's most pressing issues," UBS Chairman Kaspar Villiger said. "I am confident that the agreement will allow the bank to continue moving forward to rebuild its reputation through solid performance and client service."

Obama golfed 18 holes with Wolf and two others Monday, spending about five hours on the links. He left the golf course at about 6 p.m. Eastern time, passing people who waved on the way home.

Seen along the way: horses, ponds, lots of greenery, one sign welcoming Obama family, and gas advertised at $3.27 a gallon.

Posted at 7:03 PM ET on Aug 24, 2009  | Category:  Cast of Characters
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

So over Obama's hypocrisy and arrogance.
He is both fat cat and socialist.
Of course, he wallows in WH perks as the rest of us reap the memories of the good days past.
After working my whole life, saving for the future, he comes along.

Somehow, he misinterpreted the kind of change we wanted.
Now he flaunts his cronyism and thumbs his nose at us, the peons.


Posted by: pjcafe | August 26, 2009 1:22 AM

This is so disgusting! President Obama with another one of his donor friends...This doesn't look very good for our President who keeps touting that he wants to cut out the special interest groups....Is this just one sided??? Surely, he doens't want to bite off the hand that feeds him. He really just wants to cut off the funds that support the Republican party...Now, I see how it works...

Posted by: Rhonda5 | August 26, 2009 12:36 AM

That's assuming that Obama is even a natural-born citizen and therefore "President".

Posted by: JakeD | August 25, 2009 12:30 PM

OK, Obama is either a fat cat or a socialist, according to commenters. Which is it?
I think it's more the former. He's nowhere near as liberal as the right wants to make him out to be. A socialist, certainly not.

Posted by: bdunn1 | August 25, 2009 11:42 AM

Obama is one of them. He only think about his future after he leaves The WH , a millionaire job from companies he is helping to grab federal money.All these politicians are the same, corrupted smart pants.

Posted by: bueyesxyou | August 25, 2009 8:24 AM

It never ceases to amaze me...when will some staff member suggest to a sitting President that the "annual vacation golf outing" (which gets covered like it was a summit with a foreign leader), should be played with family, the local golf pro, a college buddy, the local USGA champ or even a couple of nobodies. Would the President have less fun? Instead, we are treated to this baloney.

Posted by: RDAM | August 25, 2009 7:37 AM

You can judge him by the company he keeps. Fat cats. Wait and see what kind of job he gets when his one term--and it probably will be one term--is over.
He's just another gasbag politician, as shady as the rest of them but a better liar. At least at first.

Posted by: Beckola | August 25, 2009 6:51 AM

You guys can moan all you like, and after a week of vacation, Obama will still be president. He doesn't read the Washington Post comments section and frankly couldn't give a hoot about the intensity with which you hate him.

Posted by: asja | August 25, 2009 2:12 AM

TO: V. Jarrett, D. Axelrod, R. Emanuel, R. Gibbs, White House (staff, please forward)

Please see urgent message to POTUS from "scrivener" in the "comments" section of this article on "The Root" --

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 24, 2009 10:45 PM

Is former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm still Vice Chairman of the Investment Bank division of UBS?


Posted by: MikeLicht | August 24, 2009 10:43 PM

So Obama taking a week off a few hours from Washington is Hitlerian, but George Bush spending a month clearing "brush" in Texas is patriotic? I seem to remember times were tough back then, too, and that Americans were protesting his policies in droves...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | August 24, 2009 10:03 PM

How many average Americans couldn't even afford a vacation this summer?

Posted by: JakeD | August 24, 2009 8:19 PM

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