Colby Hamilton, Writer, WNYC News
Colby Hamilton is a general assignment reporter. He originally joined WNYC as a political blogger. He's a proud graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Not too long before Governor Andrew Cuomo went on Fred Dicker's radio program to declare "you are either with the special interests or your with the people" on pension reform, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli put out a statement that highlighted one of the major benefits he sees in keeping the pension system largely like it is.
The Comptroller announced that the state's pension fund succeeded in getting three large California-based companies to agree to disclose how they're spending corporate political money. The release said the agreement with one of the companies, Pacific Gas & Electric, "includes a ground-breaking provision to provide further disclosures of the company’s policies and procedures regarding political lobbying activities."
“These agreements are a victory for shareholders and another step forward for transparency and accountability in the wake of the Citizen United decision,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “I am proud that the New York State Common Retirement Fund is in the vanguard of the movement to ensure that companies are acting with the best interests of shareholders in mind when they engage in political action. It is my hope that other companies will follow these companies’ leads by agreeing to fully disclose their political spending activities.”
DiNapoli has highlighted the usefulness of the fund from a political standpoint before. “By aggregating that capital, we can not only maximize the power to get superior return,” he said in an interview with the Empire last month. “You also can focus on the other ways in which you can make those companies you invest in be responsible corporate citizens in a way that makes their business model sustainable and profitable.”
The state pension fund has over $164 million invested in the companies mentioned in the statement today.