This week, I published a two-month long investigation into how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis oversaw a billion-dollar transfer of state employees’ retirement dollars into high-fee, high-risk private equity firms, as the companies’ executives donated to groups supporting his campaigns.
According to our analysis, DeSantis and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz are the only two governors who have a seat on state boards overseeing how pension investments are made. In all other states, governors simply make appointments to the pension fund board, or, in the case of New York and North Carolina, have no influence over pension investments at all.
Arrangements like DeSantis’ pension-board authority present a unique set of problems: To win elections in the United States these days, you have to raise enormous sums of money — and particularly if you have your eye on the presidency, as DeSantis does. And if you’re a politician with a loathsome personality like Ron DeSantis, the most effective way to raise $200 million is to get donations from people who have policy interests before your office.