The article is from investigative journalists David Sirota and Andrew Perez for Capitol & Main in conjunction with MapLight. The headline and sub-head give a good indication of the substance of the tale --
"Ohio, New Jersey Pension Funds Invested $625 Million in Hedge Fund That Controls National Enquirer Parent. Under Republican governors, two states pumped hundreds of millions of dollars of pension cash into a high-risk hedge fund that took control of the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc."
The story centers on the over-half a billion dollars of state pension money for retirees invested in a high-risk hedge fund, Chatham Asset Management, which controls American Media Inc, the parent company of the National Enquirer. You will no doubt recall that it was recently revealed how AMI's CEO David Pecker -- one of Trump's oldest friends and associates -- was granted immunity by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The Chatham hedge fund is run by Anthony Melchiorre, a large GOP donor who the article says "reportedly met with the president and AMI CEO David Pecker at the White House soon after Trump took office."
According to SEC records, then-Gov. Christie's administration initially invested $300 million into the high-risk hedge fund in 2013. Then, last year, a few months before Christie's term in office expired, New Jersey sent an additional $200 million to another Chatham fund.
As the article notes, "In 2013 and 2014, an Ohio pension system partially controlled by Gov. John Kasich’s appointees committed $125 million to Chatham."
The connections between Trump, Republican officials, the National Enquirer and hush money payments aside -- which is a great deal to put aside -- what's most troubling for the pension funds is how incredibly risky the investments were. AMI has had major financial difficulties in recent years and been in desperate need of cash. (In fact, there have been suggestions that that could be a major reason David Pecker agreed to flip, knowing that his company couldn't withstand a government lawsuit and could collapse.) Indeed, the hedge fund is so profoundly high risk, that Chatham investment material warns entities thinking of getting involved that they “may lose its entire investment in a troubled company.” Earlier this year, one of the country's biggest equity investors, Blackstone, dropped Chatham from one of its investment funds.
This is not the sort of venture that retiree pensions tend to invest in... Which raises questions about why in the world the massive investments were made.
“If asked to vote, I can assure you I will be voting for us to divest,” said said Tom Bruno, a state union representative who is the chairman of the New Jersey pension board of trustees and who serves on New Jersey’s State Investment Council, which oversees the pension system’s investments. “I cannot talk on behalf of the entire SIC, but I will be doing everything in my power to convince a majority to vote the same way.”
As I said, for all I know these investments were perfectly legal and financially sound. Or if not, perhaps Chris Christie and John Kasich were completely isolated from all decisions to put so much pension money in such incredibly high-risk ventures. I have no idea. But it seems from the story that this is only the beginning of the tale. You can read the whole article here.