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“Like Sands Through The Hourglass”: Gov. Christie’s Wife Works At Firm Managing State Pension Funds

Last week, The Nation published my piece exploring how Gov. Chris Christie — a champion of so-called “pension reform” — has presided over a massive transfer of state retiree money into the hands of hedge funds and other high-fee investment managers, including to Wall Street titans who have boosted the governor’s political career with hefty donations to the Republican Governors Association.

As part the piece, we noted that this shift came as perhaps somewhat of a surprise to those who followed Christie’s first campaign for statewide office. In 2009, Christie and his surrogates bashed Democratic Governor Jon Corzine for the same practice of moving large amounts of pension money into so-called “alternative investment” managers. “Jon Corzine made it easier for his friends from Wall Street to manage New Jersey’s pension fund,” blasted a “Christie for Governor” press release. In fact, Christie suggested that Corzine’s personal investments with a fund that had won New Jersey pension contracts reeked of corruption — and demanded that he divest.

Well, it appears that Christie’s wife, Mary Pat Christie, also has a financial interest in a firm that invests money on behalf of New Jersey retirees. Mary Pat joined the alternative investment firm Angelo Gordon in 2012, where “she works full time on strategic planning and marketing, focusing on bank debt and distressed funds,” according to Bloomberg. Disclosures from the New Jersey Division of Investment, the agency that oversees the state pension, reveal that Angelo Gordon continues to manage money on behalf of the fund, though they have wound down some of the investments over the years. The particular fund is called “AG Garden Partners,” one of many investment vehicles owned by Angelo Gordon.

A request for comment from the Division of Investment and to Angelo Gordon has not been answered.

Now, the contact between the New Jersey pension plan and Angelo Gordon began in 2006, well before Christie became governor. But as the Christie campaign, including then-campaign surrogate Bill Baroni, charged, such potential conflicts of interest opens ”up the door to the perception of politics.”

Will Mary Pat Christie’s employment with Angelo Gordon influence continued investments from the New Jersey pension fund into her firm?

Another question this relationship raises is, how will the many hedge fund and private equity business deals at stake in 2014 influence Christie’s chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association, the organization responsible for ensuring Republicans win gubernatorial races. In most states, governors have wide latitude in managing how state pension funds are run. Angelo Gordon manages pension money for the Nebraska and New Mexico state plans — two states where Republicans are hoping to retain power, and where Christie and the RGA are likely to play a role.

 

By: Lee Fang, Republic Report, March 24, 2014

March 26, 2014 - Posted by | Chris Christie | , , , , , ,

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