Magaziner is abusing the position of General Treasurer.
If we had a healthy civic culture, wherein citizens had been adequately educated in the appropriate use of government power, it would be the stuff of scandal, rather than political bragging, that Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner is abusing his authority over state investment funds for purposes of political activism. As he touts on Twitter:
We are using the power of Rhode Island’s $10 billion pension fund to pressure corporations to behave more responsibly.
Read how we are pushing big companies to clean up their act on:
As the report shows, Magaziner is pushing uniformly progressive initiatives, including even lobbying for partisan legislative proposals in the U.S. Congress. From whence does this power derive? What is the due process for those who are subject to the exercise of this power?
This is absurd abuse of power.
That money has been collected from taxpayers and government employees and consolidated under the treasurer’s authority as part of workers’ compensation packages. It is invested in order to produce a return and save taxpayers money in the long run. Yet, he’s using it to claim powers his office was not intended to have.
The only recourse for those who disagree with the treasurer’s ideological abuse of his fiduciary access would be for future treasurers to run for office explicitly based on the causes that they’ll use this investment fund to promote. Is that how we want the political process to affect our choice of treasurer? It would be not unlike having candidates for secretary of state run explicitly on which causes they’d tilt the electoral playing field to help or hurt.
Of course, we know very well from recent experience at all levels of government that Democrats and progressives don’t really want that. Change the thrust of the treasurer’s investment strategy, and we’d hear non-stop how abusive the practice of ideological investment is on good-government grounds.
Featured image by Jp Valery on Unsplash.