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Question of the day

Tuesday, Mar 6, 2018

* Press release…

Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for governor, called on the state of Illinois to divest from gun and weapon companies today during a news conference outside the James R. Thompson Center.

“Just like a budget is a reflection of an organization’s values, so too is an investment portfolio a reflection of an organization’s morality,” said Kennedy, who was joined by his running mate, Ra Joy. “Investing in gun manufacturers makes the companies more profitable because it drives down their cost of capital making easier for them to make money.

“Our government should not be using one hand to stem the flow of guns into our communities and, at the same time, using the other hand to subsidize the gun businesses by investing in them.”

Kennedy also highlighted the fact that State Sen. Daniel Biss benefits from these pension investments as a member of the Illinois General Assembly.

“Once again, Biss claims this is the moral issue of the day, yet finds a way to flip flop and benefit from being on opposing sides,” Kennedy said. “For Biss, what sets the issue of gun investments apart from earlier issues like pensions is that with the gun issue: there is no separation of time. Biss is on both side simultaneously.

“He speaks about the horrors of guns and benefits from investments in them at the same time.

“Biss has been in Springfield seven years and has done way too little to be a responsible steward of his investments or the investments of the people of the state.”

Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Vista Outdoor are among the gun and weapon companies the companies that the state of Illinois invests in.

* The Question: Your thoughts on this idea?

…Adding… Biss’ campaign calls the premise of the Kennedy press release “absurd” and points to the candidate’s long record on gun control.

They add that Biss called for pension investment divestiture from “dirty energy” companies in January and Kennedy remained silent, perhaps, they suggest, because Kennedy invests in some of those companies.

…Adding… Kennedy campaign…

Chris did divest last year as soon as he learned his index funds included those investments.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon0091 - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:40 pm:

    It’s not really an idea. It’s just a way to illustrate the Biss hypocrisy. BTW, same is true for pipelines and fossil fuel companies.

  2. - Fax Machine - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:42 pm:

    I’d stay on the Pritzker attack rather than take a side swipe at Biss.

  3. - Texas Red - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:43 pm:

    If they are legally purchased why should we be trying to ” stem the flow of guns into our communities” ?

  4. - Swift - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:43 pm:

    ===Biss benefits from these pension investments === Does that mean as a state employee I killed kids in Florida, or just Biss?

  5. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:44 pm:

    Two important things…

    The fiduciary responsibility to “taxpayers” (ugh) to have the best return on monies the state invests.

    That’s the blind eye, looking at the financials and the return the state can get investing as she does.

    I’ve said often I was taught a budget is the weighing and measuring of public policy and the monies behind the words to policy.

    These investments can be, and are seen by many in that light, policy statements and how public policy and investing in funds to get profits as a public policy statement.

    Is good fiscal policy and good public policy here worth the gamble, or isn’t investing always a gamble but choosing to make a statement is worth the possible monies lost?

    Then… “What if it’s better financially in the end?”

    As a line, Kennedy, for me personally, has a very wide berth here. Is it wide enough to the monies? Probably.

    Money is measure of policy.

  6. - A guy - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:44 pm:

    This wave may have shown up just on time for Chris to catch it. He’ll need to Hang 10 on this one.

  7. - Change Agent - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:45 pm:

    The idea itself is excellent. Using it to tarnish Biss is ridiculous. I have worked on gun violence prevention for years, but I’ve never taken the step of looking into my 401(k) portfolio and ensuring it contains no gun or weapons investments. Should I? Sure, but the challenges and inefficiencies of individuals going this route are exactly why Kennedy’s proposal makes sense.

  8. - OneMan - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:48 pm:

    So what does he mean when uses the word “weapons”? Is it just guns and ammunition? Does he include Boeing in this group?

    How about retailers?

    How ‘pure’ is pure in this case?

    If one of these companies is in the SP 500 does that mean an index fund for the SP500 is off limits?

  9. - Bigtwich - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:58 pm:

    –The fiduciary responsibility to “taxpayers” (ugh) to have the best return on monies the state invests.–

    It is beginning to look like divesting from gun and weapon companies might satisfy this responsibility. But that has nothing to do with Biss.

  10. - Dan Johnson - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:05 pm:

    Big picture, we absolutely should use our public pension funds for long-term sustainability and reducing our public costs (like paying for all the gunshot victims and the long-term wealth destruction from gun violence that impacts our state).

    But it is really dumb to pretend that Biss is at all involved in this. Because he essentially called every Democrat who votes to reduce gun violence a hypocrite.

    As equally brilliant to propose as it is dumb to attack Biss on this issue.

  11. - FormerParatrooper - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:06 pm:

    Illinois has a few firearm manufacturers. Divest them too?

  12. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:07 pm:

    Obviously this is nothing more than a symbolic, publicity stunt under the guise of “doing something.”

    And the attack on Biss is beyond ridiculous.

  13. - Texas Red - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:08 pm:

    What about Springfield Armory, LMT, or Rock River Armory. They are IL based firearms manufacturers, they employ hundreds and pay local property taxes. Would Kennedy seek to kick them out ?

  14. - cdog - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:10 pm:

    Does Kennedy understand the purpose of 2A? Obviously not with that huge leap in logic he is trying to make with this argument. Is forcing a divestiture a free market action or centralized-government regime policy change?

    With this same spirit, he should propose the state of Illinois divests itself from automobile manufacturers because there are 38,000 automobile fatalities per year.
    And, just as reasonably (eye roll), he should insist on divesting from any corporation that manufactures dog food because there are 900,000 dog bites per year that require medical attention.

    2A and the manufacturers of guns are not intended for malice, just like automobiles and dogs are not. They are for personal defense and the threats to that are real. The writers of the US Const understood this and the 20th century has many examples of why this concern is still valid.

    Kennedy’s position on this is ridiculous emotional pandering. Is he for or against the 2nd Amendment. It seems not.

  15. - Responsa - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:14 pm:

    I don’t think there is time for the full implications of this idea to be fully vetted, thought through, and digested by either policy makers or voters before the primary election. He’ll probably pick up some votes and will definitely lose some votes by taking this position. It’s a calculated risk I’m not sure he should have taken. But that’s Chris to a T.

  16. - Mike Klonsky - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:20 pm:

    As gov, neither would have any say over state pension fund investments. But what about Kennedy’s own voluntary investments in oil, nukes, fracking, armaments, tobacco..?

  17. - Amalia - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:28 pm:

    always follow the money. yes, divest.

  18. - Rutro - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:37 pm:

    Good idea, link to Boss is a stretch. He needs to lead the call for an assault weapons ban.

  19. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:53 pm:

    OW, actually the fiduciary responsibility of a pension board and staff is to its members and annuitants, not its taxpayers. See the “exclusive benefit rule.” #PensionTrivia Your overarching point is right, though, especially in Illinois.

    Kennedy is reaching here. I would venture a guess that the aggregate investments “by the State” in those two gunmakers is less than $1million, or about six thousandths of one percent of total assets, and well under one percent of the market cap of each company.

    OneMan also raises a good point. Large investors, like the State, pay almost nothing for S&P index funds. If they have to buy a fund “ex-tobacco,” “ex-guns,” or whatever, it’s doable, but at a price. Those aren’t given away, albeit they’re still cheaper than what we’re paying Vanguard.

  20. - lowdrag - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:55 pm:

    So lets put more people out of work and lose tax money.

  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:57 pm:

    I’d like Kennedy, Biss, and Pritzker to go to the manufacturing employees (many of whom are union) at gun manufacturers, energy companies, and others and tell them directly that they want to divest from their companies.

    Do it before the primary. Show some guts and tell the workers directly.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:59 pm:

    - AA -
    C’mon, bud. When was the last time I bought that”taxpayers” malarkey?

    However, if it allowed us all, including me to get more insight, then my job in this instance is done.


  23. - m - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 4:59 pm:

    =Obviously this is nothing more than a symbolic, publicity stunt under the guise of “doing something.”=

    I would add that divesting in companies because of something people did and do with their products is foolish. You can buy a gun, go hunting, shoot at targets, defend yourself, etc, which is what they are sold and marketed to do, without ever running afoul of the law or impacting the state through gun violence.

    You can not burn gasoline or coal without causing damage to the environment. Should we stop investing in gas companies, car companies, coal companies, power companies, etc?

  24. - 44th - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 5:10 pm:

    Ss Biss is repsonsible for his pension that he does not control investing in an ETF that owns a few of these. Come on. Ridiculous argument. Move on Chris to something better.

  25. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 5:26 pm:

    Do it to save the unicorns and help end crabgrass.

  26. - Matt Vernau - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 5:26 pm:

    Lets think more universally here as Arthur Anderson has. The budget has to reflect the whole state constitution and all of its acts and laws and thus needs all the income possible. Kennedy thinks too small to be a match for this job. The people need other things beyond safety.

  27. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 5:26 pm:

    OW, and here I thought you had got religion. ;)

  28. - Tequila Mockingbird - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 5:38 pm:

    Foolish stunt. Guns are not inherently evil and almost all are lawfully owned and used without harm to anyone.
    He should focus on real issues. But he’s a progressive liberal so publicity stunts are more important.

  29. - Sue - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 5:54 pm:

    The State pension funds are administered by their respective Boards working with their investment staff and consultants. A Governor lacks authority to insist the funds divest certain investments. I would assume investments in gun manufacturers represent minuscule percentages of the State’s investments. Do we really want ad hoc decisions as to appropriate investments. What’s next - selling Facebook for screwing up elections or Apple because we don’t like the influence it has on minors?

  30. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 6:54 pm:

    I am Pro-life and don’t like to be lectured to about morality from people who aren’t about morality

    I am voting for either Pritzker or Kennedy because I don’t like the alternative but don’t lecture me about morality

  31. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 8:49 pm:

    Quite ironic that one of Quinn and Raoul’s “pension reform” laws gave governors voting control of one State investment entity and effective control of the other two when governor-appointed Board chairs (ISBE, IBHE) are included. Anyone who thinks governors, or their appointees, can’t affect the investment decisions of a pension investment board has never heard of a fellow named Marc Levine.

  32. - A Jack - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 8:58 pm:

    If Kennedy is elected, will he divest the state police of all guns as well? That makes about as much sense because the state police is supporting gun manufacturers through their purchases.

  33. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 8:00 am:

    Is divestiture legal? Didn’t the state pass a sanctions bill against Sudan during the Darfur genocide and it was struck by the courts?

  34. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 9:28 am:

    Empty virtue signalling that solves nothing, is unrealistic, impractical, but deliciously political.

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