This is how my State Rep. Josh Mandel and State Rep. Shannon Jones, both Republicans, were received by the board of the state’s largest pension fund, as reported by James Nash in the Columbus Dispatch.
Mandel and Jones got a frosty reception yesterday while pitching their idea to the board of the state’s largest pension fund. They said they plan to trim their list of 170 banned companies — which includes such household names as Coca-Cola and Ford — to 19 companies in the energy field.
“We think it’s morally wrong for you to be investing your retirees’ income in companies that do business with the regime,” Mandel, of Lyndhurst, told board members of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. “Iran is calling for the destruction of America and is contributing to the deaths of our soldiers in Iraq. We think it’s an immoral practice.”
Hmm – you feel really strongly about this, don’t you Rep. Mandel? Lucky for you that Nash (the silent one in my ONN Capitol Square debut) never mentions how maybe those folks whom Mandel and Jones addressed would have given them a better response if the two Ohio elected officials weren’t refusing to divest their own stock in Iranian-tied GE first.
I mean, how immoral a practice could it be if neither of the elected officials is divesting, right? From the Plain Dealer:
The legislators say they are comfortable with their stock because GE has said that it won’t seek new business in Iran and that it will let its current contracts expire by the end of 2008.
After that, the only work the company will do in Iran will be supplying humanitarian resources in dealings authorized by the U.S. government.
Oh really? I feel so much better now. But still, explain to me again: why is it okay for Reps. Mandel and Jones to take a wait and see approach as elected officials but pensions should be dictated to by state law ASAP?
Mandel and Jones’ GE holdings were disclosed in annual filings with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee last year and again last month.
Mandel’s GE stock was among 38 investments listed in his latest filing. He said that he couldn’t recall when he bought the stock or how much of it he owned and that those records were not immediately available to him. He said that he wasn’t aware of criticism of GE when he acquired the stock, but that he learned of it while researching the legislation.
Mandel, who is a Marine veteran of the Iraq war, said he is comfortable with holding GE stock “as long as they’re getting out of Iran.”
“As long as they’re getting out of Iran.”
Sounds so…not immediate, for someone who says that “it’s morally wrong for you to be investing your retirees’ income in companies that do business with the regime.”
It also sounds like an unfair double standard, regardless of whether the pension funds are “institutions” and Mandel and Jones are not. Distinction without a difference, certainly in terms of appearances.
And frankly, the Ohio conservative and Republican-leaning blogs should be ashamed for not saying more about this hair-splitting by someone they refer to as a “rock star“, a “new young star” and, oh well, yeah, sometimes just a plain old “star.” It’s wrong, and if a Dem were doing it, they’d be all over it. No way would such rhetoric go untouched.
Check out how little has been written by said blogs since we learned of Mandel and Jones’ holdings.
Image IS everything in this situation and the image is bad. You are my state Rep, Josh, whether or not either of us like that fact. And I am saying, as a constituent and as just me, you should divest your GE stock and whatever other holdings you have that would be/will be on the list of investments you want to make untouchable.
NB: The Dispatch article makes mention in at least two places that Mandel and Jones are now dropping their ban on all companies and restricting it to only 19 in the energy sector. Even with this change, it seems that GE still is a target (you know, General ELECTRIC) and Mandel and Jones should sell off their shares before passage of any Ohio law that would require Ohio pensions to do the same.
UPDATE: Here is an article from the 5/10/07 Akron Beacon Journal with greater detail about opposition to the bill from within the GA and additional commentary from other individuals not mentioned in the Dispatch piece.