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Restoring State Pension Transparency In Rhode Island

James Lathrop is a Republican candidate for State Treasurer in the state of Rhode Island—a state which has long been dominated by Democrats. Most notably, Gina Raimondo, currently serving as U.S. Commerce Secretary began her career in politics as Rhode Island State Treasurer before becoming Governor—supported by unprecedented out-of-state campaign contributions from Wall Street money managers. Aside from abandoning Raimondo’s disastrous hedge fund gamble which cost the $8 billion state pension over $500 million in the first few years, her Democrat successor, Seth Magaziner, has largely followed Raimondo’s practice of opposing public access to records regarding the state’s riskiest private investments.

Lathrop drafted and signed the following Pledge of Transparency dated July 15, 2022 that he is challenging other candidates for the Treasurer’s position to sign:

Rhode Island General Treasurer’s Pledge of Transparency

As candidates for RI State Treasurer, we believe that the faith and trust in our government and elected officials starts with a commitment to open and transparent disclosures of the State’s investments and agreements with consultants and advisors of such assets.

Public pension funds have undergone significant changes in accountability, funding, structure, reporting and investing. The past decades have seen public pension funds chasing higher returns, shifting from the traditional investments in stocks and bonds. Investments now include significant holdings in alternative investments, such as hedge funds, private equity, and real estate.

This type of investing creates higher volatility and increases the need for FULL transparency.

Many say they believe in transparency and make pledges to be more transparency, but we the undersigned declare that we are committed to FULL transparency and that is defined as follows:

  • All agreements with consultants and advisors will be made public and in their entirety.
  • This will include fees, commitments of funds, restrictions of funds and how assets will be valued.
  • All investments will be identified individually and reported as such.
  • Reporting will include cost, value, how valued, and percentage ownership of the investment
  • We further pledge that no investments will be held in offshore/Cayman Island accounts.

Not surprising, thus far, no other candidate has committed to Lathrop’s transparency pledge and I doubt any will. The surest way to burn bridges with Wall Street donors is to advocate for the restoration of pension transparency.

Says Lathrop, “Former Rhode Island State Treasurer and Governor Gina Raimondo back in 2013 ushered in an era of secrecy regarding the state pension’s investments that has continued through today. Given my background as a CPA, I firmly believe that transparency in financial matters is critical to build trust. Public scrutiny ensures accountability. Restoring transparency is one of the main reasons I decided to run for office. It’s time to bring professional leadership back to the Treasurer’s office.”

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