New York Comptroller DiNapoli Touts Pension Reforms in Letter

Thomas P. DiNapoli

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli is likely to win re-election to his post without much trouble, according to recent polls.

But amidst questions about conflicts of interest in the New Jersey pension system, DiNapoli seized an opportunity to tout his own pension reform measures in a letter to the editor of the Times-Union:

A recent commentary rightfully condemned the culture of “pay to play” in which politically connected financial executives gain access to public pension money in exchange for political campaign contributions (“Public pensions, politics don’t mix,” Oct. 3).

After I was appointed state comptroller, my top priority was to restore the office’s reputation after it was badly tarnished by a scandal based on this corrupt practice. We took immediate steps to set new standards and controls to codify ethics, transparency and accountability.

In time, we have returned the office’s focus to where it should be – on the investments and performance of the New York State Common Retirement Fund. This was accomplished by: Banning the involvement of placement agents, paid intermediaries and registered lobbyists in investments; issuing an executive order and pressing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to prohibit “pay-to-play” practices; and expanding vetting and approval of all investment decisions.

I’m proud to say the latest independent review of the pension fund by Funston Advisory Services found it operates with an industry-leading level of transparency and that our investment team acts within ethical and professional standards.

This review is a validation that we are on the right path and should reassure the people of New York that the pension fund is being managed properly and ethically.

DiNapoli (D) is running against political newcomer Robert Antonacci (R).


Photo by Awhill34 via Wikimedia Commons

New York City Comptroller wants to reform rules for pension fund managers

New York State is in the midst of investigating 20 investment firms in an effort to weed out possible conflicts of interest within the city’s pension system.

But New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer isn’t waiting for the investigation to conclude; he unveiled a plan today to create new rules regulating the behavior of the officials who manage the city’s five pension funds.

The rules are aimed at cutting out conflicts of interest within the city’s Bureau of Asset Management, which is a division of the Comptroller’s office. Currently, fund managers are only required to disclose potential conflicts of interest once a year. The new rules would make disclosure of potential conflicts a quarterly occurrence.

Some of the other proposed rules:

  • Asset managers required to undergo ethics training
  • Placement of an internal auditor and an internal audit committee
  • Increased oversight of disability payments

In 2011, then-comptroller Alan G. Hevesi was sentenced to one to four years in prison for making investment decisions in exchange for kickbacks while controlling the city’s pension fund.