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Raimondo Invested in Funds That Owned Gun Company Stocks While Treasurer

Thursday, March 01, 2018


As Treasurer, Raimondo invested in funds that held gun company stocks

Governor Gina Raimondo is now making big noise about the need to further regulate the gun industry, but her track record has inconsistencies.

Then-General Treasurer Raimondo made a big announcement in 2012 about shifting to finance giant TIAA. "Our goal was to choose a provider whose priorities are low-cost and secure investment products, along with robust and dependable customer service," Raimondo said. "We have accomplished that with the selection of TIAA-CREF."

Today, Rhode Island continues to have holdings in TIAA. “The amount invested from RI’s Defined Contribution retirement plan into TIAA’s International Equity Index is approximately $4.5 mm. Less than 0.5% of the holdings in TIAA’s International Equity Index is invested with companies involved in manufacturing guns,” said Randall Rice, Deputy Director of Communications for General Treasurer Seth Magazine.

“The TIAA International Equity Index fund was one of the investment options offered when the Defined Contribution plan was implemented in 2012,” said Rice.


The New York Times reported on Monday that other states also have pension holdings via TIAA in gun companies.  The Times reported:

A number of state pension funds own shares in the gun makers. For example, pension funds for public employees in Florida, Texas, Wisconsin and Ohio all have stakes of less than 1 percent in American Outdoor Brands, formerly known as Smith & Wesson, which is the manufacturer of the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle that has been used in a number of recent mass shootings.

TIAA, which oversees retirement investments for educators and teachers, has small stakes in American Outdoor Brands and two other publicly traded gun companies. The pension fund for teachers in New York State also has very small positions in the gun companies Sturm Ruger and Vista Outdoor.

The investments represent slivers of the pension funds’ overall assets, but they nonetheless are generating debate. New Jersey lawmakers last week moved to cut off investments in gunmakers by the state pension plan.

Raimondo announced divestiture, but never completed the process

Talked About Divesting

The year after Raimondo invested in TIAA, she announced that she was going to divest from gun investments -- but failed to address TIAA gun stock ownership.

According to an article published in 2013 in the trade publication Pensions & Investment, “Rhode Island State Investment Commission voted unanimously to begin the process of divesting from gun distributor United Sporting Cos., confirmed Joy Fox, spokeswoman for state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who oversees the commission.”

The article went on, “Currently, the investment commission has a $20 million commitment to Wellspring Capital Partners IV, which invests in the gun distributor. The investment commission, which invests on behalf of the $7.4 billion Rhode Island Employees’ Retirement System, Providence, voted Oct. 23 to pursue a secondary sale of Rhode Island’s stake in Wellspring’s fund. Cliffwater, the investment commission’s consultant, will seek pricing for the sale.

Additionally, the commission voted to allow Cliffwater and the state treasury’s investment division to begin a process to remove the shares in Summit Partners’ gun distributor holdings from the pension investment portfolio. Rhode Island has $20 million invested in Summit, which in turn has about $2 million invested in United Sporting."

“As Treasurer, Governor Raimondo began the process of divesting pension investments in gun companies. Questions about the range of indexes TIAA offers in are better answered by TIAA,” said Raimondo’s Director of Communication Michael Raia in an email to GoLocal on Wednesday.

Lobbyist Donations

Raimondo is continuing to deny taking money from the gun lobby -- despite repeated donations from RI's top NRA lobbyist and former House Speaker William Murphy, who has given $1350 to her campaign coffers while being paid over $60,000 from the gun rights' organization. 

GoLocal caught up with Raimondo at a rally in Warwick this week with "Moms Demand Action," where she signed a symbolic "red flag" executive order to take guns away from individuals who "pose a danger to themselves or others," which would need legislative approval to be enforced. SEE VIDEO HERE

"I don't take money from the gun lobby," said Raimondo, who has received four political contributions from lobbyist and former Rhode Island Speaker of the House William Murphy during her time as Governor, and during Murphy's time as a lobbyist for the 2nd Amendment Coalition, which is a "NRA State Association.”

Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Morgenson has reported on investigation into TIAA

TIAA Being Investigated

In November, Gretchen Morgenson, a top financial writer for then New York Times (and now the Wall Street Journal) joined GoLocal LIVE after her newspaper published her investigative piece that unveiled claims that financial giant TIAA was involved in improper financial practices took on new momentum.

Rhode Island’s Treasurer Seth Magaziner has nearly $700 million invested with TIAA.

Morgenson was first to report that, “New York’s attorney general has subpoenaed TIAA, the giant insurance company, and investment firm, seeking documents and information relating to its sales practices…”

In October, she wrote a sweeping investigative piece that raised questions about TIAA’s selling strategies. “The subpoena to TIAA, which handles retirement accounts for over four million workers at 15,000 nonprofit institutions across the country, followed an article last month in The New York Times that raised questions about the firm’s selling techniques,” wrote Morgenson.

On GoLocal LIVE, Morgenson told News Editor Kate Nagle in a Skype interview, “I think clients in all states should be worried -- Mr. [Seth] Magaziner should do a little more investigation into this to assure himself and the people in Rhode Island in these plans - that what TIAA is [telling them] is correct.” WATCH INTERVIEW HERE


Related Slideshow: Top Gun Lobby Recipients - 2018

Prev Next

Nicholas Mattiello

Speaker of the House


Democrat Mattiello, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2006 and became Speaker in 2014, counts contributions totaling $3,425 from the NRA PAC; $2,550 from the Gun Owners PAC, and $200 from the NRA's top lobbyist. 

Prev Next

Dominick Ruggerio

Senate President


A member of the Senate since 1985, Democrat Ruggerio's NRA PAC donations on record -- dating back to 2002 -- total $4,050, and contributions from the Gun Owners PAC ($900) push Ruggerio's gun lobby influence just shy of $5000. 

Prev Next

Michael McCaffrey

Rhode Island State Senator


The Democratic Senate Majority Leader, who represents District 29 in Warwick, has taken in a NRA war chest, having first been elected in 1994, of at least $4,010. In addition, the Gun Owners PAC has given McCaffrey $400. 

Prev Next

Joe Trillo

Candidate for Governor and Former State Rep


The former Republican State Rep and honorary Trump campaign chair-turned independent candidate for Governor in 2018 amassed  $4,020 in contributions from the NRA PAC in the past 15+ years. 

Prev Next

Allan Fung

Candidate for Governor and Cranston Mayor


Republican Fung, who is making a run for the state's highest office once again in 2018 after coming up short to Governor Gina Raimondo in 2014, amassed more donations from the Gun Owners PAC ($2300) than he did the NRA ($1000). 

Prev Next

Frank Ciccone

State Senator


A Democrat representing parts of Providence and North Providence since 2002, Ciccone -- who faced a strong primary challenge from Doris De Los Santos in 2016, has received contributions $2875 from the NRA PAC, and $250 from the Gun Owners PAC. 

Prev Next

Robert Jacquard

State Representative


A Democrat from Cranston first elected in 1992, Jacquard is shown to have gotten $1550 from the NRA PAC, and $500 from the Gun Owners PAC dating back to 2002.

Prev Next

Stephen Ucci

State Representative


The Democratic Cranston and Johnston State Rep first elected in 2004 has taken in at least $1,550 from the NRA PAC, according to Board of Elections records, as well as $290 from the Gun Owners PAC.

Prev Next

Susan Sosnowski

State Senator


Sosnowski, a Democrat who has represented District 37 (New Shoreham, South Kingstown) since 1996, has been among the top NRA PAC recipients over the years with $1,100 in contributions and $500 from the Gun Owners PAC.

Prev Next

Hanna Gallo

State Senator


First elected in 1998, Gallo, a Democrat who represents Cranston and West Warwick, has received $1400 in donations from the NRA PAC. 


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