The first Board of Deposits meeting Josh Mandel has attended since being elected Treasurer ended up being a newsworthy event. Not because Mandel finally decided to do his job, it was because of the actions he took during the meeting.
Mandel announced yesterday that he had formally replaced two banks charged with fraud that were contracted to manage $41 billion of international assets held by Ohio’s four largest public pension systems. According to the Dayton Daily News, the banks Mandel is replacing have bilked the State of Ohio out of $16 million dollars already. The Board moved to transfer the management of these assets to two other banks yesterday.
Now, before we throw Mandel a parade for finally doing his job, the first question that should be asked is why did it take 14 months for this to happen? These accusations of fraud were made in August of 2010 by none other than candidate for Treasurer Josh Mandel. During Mandel’s campaign against then Treasurer Kevin Boyce, Mandel attacked Boyce for investing state assets with State Street Bank, one of the banks removed yesterday. At the time, State Street Bank was being sued in California for charging the state’s pensions too much in fees.
Naturally, one would assume that once he was elected Treasurer, Mandel would rush headfirst into investigating these banks and protecting Ohioans’ investments. Well, that didn’t exactly happen. After being elected Treasurer Mandel waited 6 months to ask Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to formally look into these allegations. And then no further action was taken until yesterday.
The question that people should be asking is why did Josh Mandel sit idly by for over a year while taxpayers’ money was being abused? Before Josh Mandel can claim that he is some kind of crusader against fraud that is working to protect the investment of Ohio school teachers, fire fighters, and police officers, why was he asleep at the wheel and let these abuses continue for almost 15 months? Mandel can’t take credit for stopping fraud yesterday he knew was happening 14 months ago.
Let’s not kid ourselves, Mandel recently caught a lot of flak for his refusal to do his job and then flying to the Bahamas to raise campaign funds from the pay day loan industry. While yesterday’s announcement may have been made by the Treasurer’s office, it was also a campaign decision done to help push the focus away from Mandel’s recent missteps and on to another issue.
Mandel shouldn’t be applauded for doing his job; he should be questioned about why it took him so long to figure out how to do it in the first place.
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