While lawmakers in Albany push for new gun restrictions in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, NY1 has found that state workers' pensions are invested in companies that manufacture firearms. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Following the Newtown shootings, state lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo have been negotiating a package of stricter gun control laws. That could include a tightening of the assault weapons ban and comprehensive background checks for purchasing firearms.
But it turns out that New York State invests its public employee pensions in companies that manufacture guns. Some say that sends the wrong message.
"Certainly looking at divesting," said Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh. "There are private equity firms that are looking into divesting some of these assets because it's the right thing to do. And certainly, we should be looking at the pension funds and any public entities."
New York State has a roughly $150 billion pension fund for its public employees. More than $1.1 billion of that is managed by Boston-based Acadian Asset Management. As of its latest quarterly filing, Acadian held roughly $22 million worth of stock in the gun manufacturer Smith and Wesson.
In addition, according to the state comptroller's office, which directs the pension fund, public employee pensions also directly hold $2 million worth of shares in gunmaker Sturm Ruger and $9.6 million in Alliant Techsystems, which also makes guns.
"Well, I had to recuse myself from comment because my company done business with all the pension funds," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "I can just tell you personally, I do not own, do not have any investments in companies that either manufacture and sell cigarettes or manufacture and sell guns."
A spokesman for Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said fiduciary responsibility is primarily what guides investment decisions, but a comprehensive review is currently underway.
There was talk of a special legislative session in Albany before the end of the year to pass gun control measures, but insiders say a couple of things worked against that. There were issues about calling enough lawmakers back in time to have a quorum. Also, the parties negotiating have not yet reached an agreement, which means Governor Cuomo will likely push a package in his State of the State address next month.