It’s safe to say this isn’t the most pleasant day in Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s office.
Teachers and possibly other government employees are planning a protest Thursday evening outside a Raimondo fundraiser at Roger Williams Park Casino, a reminder that the treasurer is likely to face constant opposition from public-sector labor if she enters the Democratic primary for governor next year.
And now Matt Taibbi – the slash-and-burn anti-finance Rolling Stone writer who famously labeled Goldman Sachs “a great vampire squid” – is out with a lengthy new article called “Looting the Pension Funds” that unflattering describes Raimondo as an “ostentatiously ambitious” politician who bought into a Wall Street-driven push to reduce workers’ pension benefits and then handed $1 billion to large hedge funds:
What few people knew at the time was that Raimondo’s “tool kit” wasn’t just meant for local consumption. The dynamic young Rhodes scholar was allowing her state to be used as a test case for the rest of the country, at the behest of powerful out-of-state financiers with dreams of pushing pension reform down the throats of taxpayers and public workers from coast to coast. One of her key supporters was billionaire former Enron executive John Arnold – a … ubiquitous young right-wing kingmaker with clear designs on becoming the next generation’s Koch brothers, and who for years had been funding a nationwide campaign to slash benefits for public workers.
Nor did anyone know that part of Raimondo’s strategy for saving money involved handing more than $1 billion – 14 percent of the state fund – to hedge funds, including a trio of well-known New York-based funds: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Capital was given $66 million, Ken Garschina’s Mason Capital got $64 million and $70 million went to Paul Singer’s Elliott Management. … Felicitously, Loeb, Garschina and Singer serve on the board of the Manhattan Institute, a prominent conservative think tank with a history of supporting benefit-slashing reforms. The institute named Raimondo its 2011 “Urban Innovator” of the year.