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RI Treasurer Latest to Direct Pension Investment Review After Sandy Hook Massacre

Preliminary results indicate the state is invested in private equity firm Wellspring Capital Management, which has an equity stake in United Sporting Companies, a firearms distributor

Rhode Island treasurer Gina Raimondo became the latest state treasurer, following the Massachusetts and California treasurers, to direct a state pension fund to review its investments in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14.

Raimondo announced on Dec. 19 that she has directed Cliffwater, one of the state’s investment consultants, to review the pension fund’s investments holdings for firearm and ammunition manufacturers and distributors. The preliminary search identified that Rhode Island invests with one private equity firm, Wellspring Capital Management, which has a stake in United Sporting Companies, a firearms distributor. United Sporting also sells shooting accessories and hunting supplies.

Wellspring told Raimondo that United Sporting will be ending their distribution of semi-automatic rifles as of Jan. 1.

Also on Dec. 19, Massachusetts treasurer Steve Grossman called for Pension Reserve Investment Management to review any investments in gun companies. 

On Dec. 17, California treasurer Bill Lockyer said to reporters that he believes neither California State Teachers’ Retirement Systems (CalSTRS) or California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) “should have any investments in the makers of guns that are illegal in California, especially when those guns have been used to kill 20 innocent children and six adults.”

As Mergers & Acquisitions reported on Dec. 18, private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP announced it would sell its interests in Freedom Group Inc., a company that owns Bushmaster Firearms International. Bushmaster makes the AR 15 rifle, one of the guns allegedly used in the Dec. 14 Newtown, Conn., massacre. Cerberus made the announcement after a CalSTRS spokesperson told reporters that the pension fund was “examining the Cerberus investment to determine how best to move forward given the tragic events of last Friday.” 

Raimondo’s comments come amid growing support among politicians for revamping gun-control laws. Also on Dec. 19, President Barack Obama, who did not push for an overhaul of the country’s gun-control laws during his firm term, asked Vice President Joe Biden to lead an administration-wide initiative to create new gun control policies. 

 

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