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Comptroller race: NYS Dems scold Wilson on Iran; UPDATED

Republican candidate Harry Wilson is running for New

Republican candidate Harry Wilson is running for New York State comptroller. (June 1, 2010) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

 GOP Comptroller Harry Wilson's comments hailing "shareholder value" as key in his approach to the state pension portfolio has prompted this release from the state Democratic Party. Democrats seem to feel they have a good issue on this. Judge for yourself from the text below:

UPDATE: William O'Reilly, spokesman for the Wilson campaign, responds: "This suggestion is so ridiculous we didn't even want to respond to it. Obviously Harry Wilson would never invest in Iran or Sudan. DiNapoli is going into the gutter on this attack. He's showing his stripes as the ultimate Albany politician."

Here's the Democrats' statement:

 Dems blast Wilson for policy
that could end ban on investments in Iran

 Under Wilson’s approach, taxpayer $$$ could flow to companies linked with Iran, Sudan, and other genocidal countries.

Jacobs: While IRan threatens Israel and world, it shouldn’t get one cent of New York’s hard-earned pension dollars.

 Today, Jay Jacobs, Chair of the NYS Democratic Committee, demanded that Hedge Fund Harry Wilson back off his openness to lifting the ban on investing New York pension money in companies affiliated with Iran and other genocidal states.

On a conference call with journalists, Wilson criticized New York’s policy of not investing in Iran and other rogue nations for reasons other than “shareholder value” and wouldn’t say whether he’d continue it. The policy, first implemented by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, has been widely praised as both “fiscally prudent and morally wise” by human rights advocates.

“Harry Wilson’s willingness to revisit New York’s ban on investing with Iran – a country on a quest to ‘wipe Israel off the map,’ obtain nuclear weapons, and threaten the United States -- is naïve, at best, or callous, at worst,” said Jacobs.

“We need to stand firm against regimes like those of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, not fund them with our pension money. Even a former hedge fund manager like Wilson should recognize that it’s wrong to let even one cent of New York pension money flow to genocidal countries. Harry, it’s time to admit that you were wrong and disavow your openness to investing New York pension money with companies affiliated with Iran, Sudan, and countries like them,” Jacobs added.

Background
Harry Wilson is open to investing in Iran, if the price is right. In a conference call with reporters, Wilson stated that, “in the world that I envision for pension fund management, a lot of these questions [i.e. whether to divest from a country such as Iran] become less relevant because they become a less-important part of the job,” and took issue with investment decisions that consider human rights because it would “lead us down the slippery slope of what if they’re torturing but only torturing on Tuesdays.” (Times-Union Capitol Confidential, 7/7/10)

In 2009, New York State formally divested from Iran and Sudan. On June 30, 2009, New York State Comptroller DiNapoli announced that after a two-year, three-phase process, the Common Retirement Fund would divest $86.2 million from nine companies that do business in Iran and Sudan. Thorough reviews were undertaken to ensure that actions taken were consistent with the Comptroller’s fiduciary responsibility to the Fund’s members, beneficiaries and retirees. The decision was lauded by human rights activists who said that the decision was both “fiscally prudent and morally wise” and that it sends a strong moral message and has important practical implications. (6/30/09)

Harry Wilson after being nominated as a GOP candidate for comptroller in June 2010. 

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