Yesterday I mentioned the whiz-bang job that David Sirota has been doing -- first for Pando and more recently for International Business Times -- reporting on the shockingly loose ethics when it comes to handling pension monies under the Christie administration. Hours later, he published his latest and it's a doozy:
In the context of a New Jersey pension system stocked with $81 billion in assets, here was a transaction that seemed unremarkable. It was 2011, the year after Gov. Chris Christie had installed his longtime friend Robert Grady to oversee the state pension fund's investments. A former executive from the heights of finance and a national Republican Party power broker, Grady was pursuing a new strategy, shifting money into hedge funds and private equity holdings in the name of diversification and higher returns. He was now pushing to entrust up to $1.8 billion of New Jersey pension money to the Blackstone Group, one of the largest players in private equity.
But one special feature of that Blackstone bet underscores the interlocking relationships at play as states increasingly rely on the counsel and management of Wall Street institutions to invest their pension dollars: One of the private equity funds New Jersey was investing in – a pool of money called Blackstone Capital Partners VI – claimed among its investors a Wyoming-based company named Cheyenne Capital. That company's list of partners included one Robert Grady.
In short, Grady was pushing to invest New Jersey public money in the same Blackstone fund in which his own firm was investing -- without disclosing that fact to N.J. officials.
Read the whole thing and I think you'll agree this is wrong on multiple levels (including the hedge fund-ization of worker pension monies, not to mention the insider dealing). Of course, most folks either don't know or don't want to know the details of how pension funds are managed -- even with billions of dollars at stake -- but everybody hates being stuck in traffic, which is why everybody knows about Bridgegate but no one's talking enough about Pensiongate.
But this one may have longer legs. Stay tuned.