2015-02-13 19:29:23

Public Pensions Shift to Risky Wall Street, And Local Politicians Rake in Political Cash

We look at a Wall Street scandal that has generated little attention but impacts millions of American public workers. In recent years, cities and states have been increasingly investing worker pensions in risky hedge funds, private equity and other so-called "alternative investments." Many of the investments are being done in secret while politically connected Wall Streets firms — including Blackstone, the Carlyle Group and Elliott Management — earn millions in investment fees from taxpayers. Denver-based journalist David Sirota recently revealed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who once served as President Obama's chief of staff, received more than $600,000 in campaign contributions from executives at investment firms that manage Chicago pension funds. Sirota also revealed the head of a New Jersey board that determines how the state invests its $80 billion pension fund was in direct contact with top political and campaign fundraising aides for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during his re-election bid. Meanwhile, some states, including Illinois, Kentucky and Rhode Island, have faced criticism for blocking the release of information about how their pension funds are being handled. We speak with David Sirota, senior writer at the International Business Times, who authored the 2013 report, "The Plot Against Pensions," published by the Institute for America's Future. 

Full episodes of Democracy Now! can be viewed at the link: https://freespeech.org/collection/democracy-now.



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