State Treasurer Gina Raimondo's office and one of her most prominent critics, Ted Siedle, are trading shots anew after the state's largest public-employee union hired Siedle to review the work of the state Investment Commission.
In a statement, Raimondo spokeswoman Joy Fox says:
“The news that Rhode Island Council 94, AFSCME has retained Ted Siedle raises questions about the credibility and motives of Siedle’s previous columns. This was a bait and switch. He sold himself as a journalist while pitching a local union for business.
“It’s not clear how much he is charging union members as a consultant, why he is focused on Rhode Island when other public pension funds have higher allocations to alternatives, or if he has additional personal or political motivations."
In a telephone interview, Siedle says the issue is Raimondo's move to increase the state pension fund's allotment of hedge funds -- which he calls too risky and marked by excessive fees. He says the question of how he got hired is irrelevant.
"Don’t try to shift the blame, Ms. Raimondo. The focus is on what she’s doing with the pension fund and the participants have the right to hire anyone they want to investigate potential wrongdoing."
Siedle notes how Raimondo had called him a "blogger," not a journalist, in responding to his initial critique of her pension management. He said he's focusing on Rhode Island since he was the first to raise major questions about pension management after Raimondo and her 2011 overhaul of the state pension system were celebrated in media reports near and far.
Fox notes how the treasurer's office recently increased the amount of online information made available about pension investments. Raimondo has defended the increased allotment of hedge funds in the state pension fund as a way to make long-term performance more stable.