Davis Faculty Association

Money behind CA pension proposition also secret money behind PBS pension news series

John Arnold — the billionaire former Enron trader who has been the financial backing for a proposed California ballot proposition that would eliminate constitutional protections for vested pension and retiree healthcare benefits for current public employees, including UC employees, if it gathers enough signatures to make it to the November ballot — turns out to be the hidden money behind a new a new two-year PBS news series titled “Pension Peril.”

Full story is at:
http://pando.com/2014/02/12/the-wolf-of-sesame-street-revealing-the-secret-corruption-inside-pbss-news-division/

Here is an excerpt:

In recent years, Arnold has been using massive contributions to politicians, Super PACs, ballot initiative efforts, think tanks and local front groups to finance a nationwide political campaign aimed at slashing public employees’ retirement benefits. His foundation which backs his efforts employs top Republican political operatives, including the former chief of staff to GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey (TX). According to its own promotional materials, the Arnold Foundation is pushing lawmakers in states across the country “to stop promising a (retirement) benefit” to public employees.

Despite Arnold’s pension-slashing activism and his foundation’s ties to partisan politics, Leila Walsh, a spokesperson for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), told Pando that PBS officials were not hesitant to work with them, even though PBS’s own very clear rules prohibit such blatant conflicts…

The stealth Arnold-PBS connection, however, represents a major escalation in the larger trend. In this particular case, PBS seems to be defying its own rules and regulations about conflicts of interest. At the same time, the fact that PBS is obscuring the financial arrangement suggests the network may be deliberately attempting to hide those conflicts from its own viewers…
But most troubling of all, the report on Vallejo promoted the city councilor’s “campaigning to change (state) law to give cities the right to negotiate for pension cuts.” PBS’s “Pension Peril” correspondent noted that the legislator’s coalition is “hoping to get the initiative onto the ballot” so that cities can unilaterally cut public employee pensions. What the PBS “Pension Peril” series omitted is the fact that the “Pension Peril” series’ own benefactor, John Arnold, is the major financier of the very California ballot initiative PBS was promoting. Arnold’s involvement in that ballot measure follows his earlier funding of pension-cutting advocacy in California, which PBS also did not mention.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 at 6:47 pm and is filed under Pensions, State Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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