RI Retired Teachers Willing to Pay $10K Demand from Magaziner for Pension Investigation

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

 

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The Rhode Island Retired Teachers Association says it will pay the more than $10,000 demanded by Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner — if necessary — for materials requested by Forbes' columnist Edward Siedle for his investigation into the state pension system's real estate investments.

In December, Siedle identified real estate as the "fund’s worst performing asset class by far;” in March, Magaziner’s office said it would be charging the five figure amount for materials requested for his investigation.

Diane Bucci with the Rhode Island Retired Teachers Association — the group that hired Siedle to conduct the investigation — said at a recent meeting the board voted in incur the cost “if need be.”

Retired Teachers on Record

“’We’re one of the smaller groups. We’re not a union — we're under AARP — although all of us have union affiliation,” said Bucci. “We're a determined group.  Our board voted to approve the [$10,000].  We've currently got between 600 and 675 members, and we had some more people when there was litigation.”

Bucci noted the group still had legal funds from when it was fighting the pension reform battle. 

“Our members said they want to see the [pension] fund more properly managed with the hope of solvency, and getting our COLA,” said Bucci. “We feel it's been mismanaged, but with the law, the only way we have a chance is through solvency. The ratio and the equation [Governor Raimondo] put together, we're never going to get there.”

Bucci said she thought the $10,000 request by Magaziner was “not acceptable,” however.

“I don’t know how it fits in with his message about transparency,” said Bucci. “We’ve asked the [Treasurer’s] office to meet next week, we haven’t heard back yet.”

Siedle Responds

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Edward Siedle

When reached on Tuesday, Siedle provided the following comment on the latest development

“As I have explained to Patrick Marr in the Treasury in a recent call, it is unfortunate that the Treasurer’s office would choose to charge retired school teachers to access documents directly related to their retirement savings,” said Siedle.  “So we’ll see what happens. It’s important that the transparency of the Treasurer be put to the test.”

Siedle, a former United State Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawyer, who has conducted multiple investigations into Rhode Island's pension system, most notably looking into the fee structure to Wall Street under former Treasurer and now Governor Gina Raimondo, had said in March then when he got the news that he was "shocked" by the price tag. 

 

Related Slideshow: RI Public Pension Reform: Wall Street’s License To Steal

See the key findings from Forbes' columnist Edward Siedle, who unveiled his investigative report into the RI pension system, "License to Steal," in October 2013.  

"The Employee Retirement System of Rhode Island has secretly agreed to permit hedge fund managers to keep the state pension in the dark regarding how its assets are being invested; to grant mystery hedge fund investors a license to steal, or profit at its expense using inside information; and to engage in potentially illegal nondisclosure practices," said Siedle.  

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