Raimondo Invested in Funds That Owned Gun Company Stocks While Treasurer
Thursday, March 01, 2018
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.
TIAA'S GUN TIES
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.
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.
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.”
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
- Raimondo and Mattiello Back-to-Back on LIVE - Talk PawSox, Partners Health, and $1B for Schools
- Friday on LIVE: Gov. Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello, Receiver Del Sesto
- Raimondo Reverses Course on Investing in Home Care at Peril to RI - Oliver & Ellison
- Projo’s Bogdan Leaves Paper for Raimondo’s Office - Second Reporter in Two Weeks to Quit
- Raimondo Announces Details of Municipal Technical Assistance Program
- Big Thursday and Friday on GoLocal LIVE - Raimondo, Mattiello, and Pryor
- Raimondo’s Budget Proposal & PawSox Legislation: This Week at the State House
- RI School Committees’ Duffy on Challenges Facing Level-Funded Education in Raimondo FY19 Budget
- R.W. Alley: “Raimondo’s Budget Balancing Act”
- Riley: Raimondo‘s Confused Tax Reform Priorities
- Raimondo Raises More Over $570k for Quarter, Account Tops $3.3M
- EDITORIAL: Raimondo Denial of Ties to NRA Money - “We Call BS”
- Raimondo Refuses to Return Campaign Donations from Gun Lobbyist
- 65% of RIers Support Raimondo’s $250M Bond, Says Bryant’s Hassenfeld Institute Poll
- NEW: RI GOP Blasts Ethics Commission for “Making Excuses for Raimondo”
- VIDEO: Raimondo Doubles-Down on Denying Gun-Lobby Money, Despite Repeated Donations
- Raimondo Shuffles Press Office in Prep for 2018 Campaign
- Raimondo Orders U.S., RI Flags to Fly at Half-Staff to Honor Victims of Parkland School Shooting
- Raimondo Drops in New Poll — Favorability Now 40%
- Sasse Says Governor Raimondo’s Bond Requests of $368.5 Are Too Rich for RI
- R.W. Alley: “Raimondo -They Love Me”
- RI Republican Party Files Ethics Complaint Against Raimondo