“Pro-life” is a euphemism for “pro-patriarchal authoritarian.”
 

Sunday, October 09, 2022

MinnPost recently published about the Minnesota State Auditor's election. The upshot was that the pension fund management practices of the current auditor were examplary. [UPDATED]

 Link. Ryan Wilson, the GOP candidate emphasized ROI, and while return on investment is a measure in finance, risk is always a lurking factor. Pension funds are not private equity funds taking high risks to chase high ROI. The article makes that clear without mentioning the keyword, "prudent" in terms of investing other people's future. 

From that item:

“I will not play politics with our pensions,” GOP nominee Ryan Wilson said during the only debate so far with the incumbent DFL Auditor Julie Blaha. “We must put return on investment first.”

Unlike the way some Republicans are stepping gingerly around the issue of abortion and some Democrats are trying to finesee the issues around public safety, Blaha is running toward this political fire rather than away from it. She said considering ESG factors is the trend in retirement fund investing, not just by public systems but by private investors.

“Even if you don’t care about the environment at all, you need to think about climate change in investments,” she said during the WCCO radio debate. “There are significant risks and there are significant opportunities in how climate is changing and how we’re transitioning energy.”

Blaha blamed “MAGA auditors and treasurers” who are trying to discredit ESG in investment decisions. “The evidence is overwhelming, and it’s also common sense. How many of us are sinking our savings into coal right now?”

“You know what’s been a great investment over the last six months that we missed out on?” Wilson asked. “Coal.” To which Blaha responded that pension funds are invested with 10, 20 and 30-year outlooks, not six months.

“You cannot be running around trying to day trade with my pension,” she said.

[...]  While it is not an issue so far in the race for Minnesota governor between Walz and GOP nominee Scott Jensen, so-called woke investing is an issue in other states. Texas has cut ties with 10 private investment firms that include ESG factors in their investments, including the largest manager of retirement investments BlackRock Inc. It came in response to a state law meant to sanction investors who are turning away from oil and gas.

BlackRock has used the voting power that the shares it manages give it in corporate decision making to promote ESG policies on company management.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed that state’s investment board to adopt policies that force it to not consider ESG factors. 

The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has prepared a model ordinance called the State Government Employee Retirement Act for state lawmakers who want to ban consideration of ESG in state investing.

ALEC is poison, it is a Koch financed snake pit. (As always, opinions can differ.)

Blaha is the incumbent. Retirement fund management by Blaha and the Board made up of statewide office holders is of record (the present board is Blaha, Walz, Simon and Ellison). Wilson the challenger, is wanting something to focus upon in order to position himself as offering something different. So, ROI is mentioned without any "plan" how he'd get more ROI without more risk. 

More from MinnPost:

Consultant looks at ESG in Minnesota

The study commissioned by the Minnesota investment board with Meketa Investment Group described Minnesota as “among the more engaged U.S. public pension plans,” noting the actions to include ESG factors in its list of investment beliefs, the push to urge the SEC to require more reporting by public companies, and the participation in ESG discussions being held by national institutional investors such as state investment boards.

The state doesn’t generally buy and sell individual stocks but instead invests in large investment funds banks and investment houses such as BlackRock offer. Because many of those funds “will likely be incorporating assessments of climate risks and opportunities,” the state’s will be incorporating ESG factors “even if the SBI changes nothing in their investment strategy.”

While Meketa recommended the board consider shifting some assets into companies that “benefit from long-term shifts to a low-carbon economy,” it did not support full divestment from fossil fuels as Maine has done. The consultant said that would not reduce overall demand for such energy sources and would not reduce carbon emissions directly. It would also give up the board’s proxy voting powers that could be replaced by others who don’t share the board’s investment beliefs. It might also separate the state from companies that are transitioning to renewable energy even though they continue to own non-renewable energy assets.

Minnesota’s investment board is considered among the best managed public investment entities in the U.S. and has reported returns in the top 25 percent, sometimes the top 20 percent, among other public pension plans [PDF]. Those returns have slipped during the last several quarters, something common among pension funds. Blaha attributes Minnesota’s worse-than-average performance to the state’s heavier use of publicly traded companies than some other pension plans.

 The state fund is the 14th largest non-federal investment fund in the U.S. and the 38th largest in the world.  The state has also done a good job restoring the health of its fund – having 82.2 percent of the money needed to cover future payments – the 14th highest among states.

Blaha said she was happy when the issue came up during the radio debate with Wilson because it is a “real issue” in the campaign and gave her a chance to fact-check some of the claims being made about ESG factors in public investing. It isn’t just states with Democratic governors that are looking at this, and it isn’t just governments. All, she said, are doing it to reduce exposure to companies that will decline in value and instead invest in companies that will grow in value.

“I would like to think that Goldman Sachs is doing this for good environmental reasons,” she said. “But, come on, they’re trying to make money.” Blaha said she rejected calls from organizations such as Youth Climate Change to immediately sell oil stocks because it would violate the board’s fiduciary duties. She also said that many of those same companies could be helping develop alternative sources of energy just as car companies built on gas-powered vehicles are helping advance electric cars.

She endorsed a key recommendation from the board’s consultant that the board move toward investments with a net-zero carbon footprint “while holding investment in our back pocket in extreme situations.”

So, all told, a prudent long horizon value-based management did well. Chasing short term swings might work for some, but it is not well thought of as a pension fund approach. 

Blaha has her record to run on. Who is Wilson? We need to know. First, a screen capture from his campaign website:

click image to enlarge and read

One can wonder about "Removing Politics" touted with the Jensen lawn sign in the image, not removed. But it's Wilson's site, to fashion as he feels best.

Wilson's Linkedin profile is unimpressive, touting company experience in ventures most have never heard of, and which may or may not be doing well today.

Wilson's Linkedin profile contrasts with a DFL press release about who Wilson is, via who he has been, with links to outside sourcing, including Internet Archive. (That press release could also be posted via image capture, but then links would be inactive that way). Hence, by quoting, the press release says:

05/13/2022

Wilson is a right-wing extremist  with a history of working for corrupt politicians looking to further his political agenda in the Auditor’s office

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin released the following statement in response to Ryan Wilson’s endorsement from the Republican Party of Minnesota:

“The fact that Ryan Wilson served as an election lawyer for Donald Trump, the most corrupt president in living memory, is proof that Wilson could not care less about transparency and accountability in government. 

“Wilson also cannot credibly tell Minnesotans he’s running to remove politics from the Auditor’s office when he has been a leader in multiple, far-right groups. Minnesotans deserve an Auditor with integrity, and that is not Ryan Wilson.”

Background on Wilson:

At a recent campaign event, Wilson admitted to working as an election lawyer for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. During his presidency, Donald Trump used his office to funnel astonishing amounts of taxpayer money into his pockets at every opportunity possible. Trump was even impeached for withholding weapons for Ukraine until they manufactured dirt on a political opponent.

While Wilson claims to be non-partisan, his career proves otherwise. Wilson was recently a Law and Liberty Fellow at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian, Koch-funded law firm. The Institute for Justice has worked to send public funds to private schools and successfully sued to eliminate part of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act that attempted to limit big money in elections.

In his staff biography for the Institute for Justice, Wilson says he was “president of the local student chapter of the Federalist Society,” a conservative legal organization working to place far-right judicial activists into the court system. The Federalist Society helped Donald Trump select his Supreme Court nominees and has been working to overturn Roe v. Wade

Yes, it is opposition research. However, links are real and are aplenty to back up plain assertions. A Trumpist and Koch acolyte with strong Federalist Society love is not who Crabgrass would want managing anyone else's pensions. The background is political, extremely so, in contrast to the "Take politics out of the office" self-description he features on his campaign site. I trust the history, as sourced.

I trust Blaha to be less political when reelected, while, from circumstantial evidence, I have problems with believing Ryan Wilson has any real care to depoliticize anything. He is a lawyer looking for a government paycheck while "libertarian." I find contradiction of value in making a value judgment.

_________UPDATE_________

Ryan Wilson's LinkedIn page has a gap, 2016 to present, in the chrono listings, while his opening "About" tout says, "Public interest litigator with experience in federal and state courts and at the trial and appellate level.[...]" That means he was in private practice doing "public interest" litigation with it begging the question of what he means by that. ALEC and Federalist Society can be "public interest" to some, but not to me. It is politician in training from the far, far right. 

It would be nice to know more about Wilson's past, in political mode.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________

The Blaha website has detail. Experience matters. Blaha has a background in labor relations and education. She is endorsed by Planned Parenthood, meaning she's not in favor of taking personal body autonomy away from anyone. 

Contrary to the Federalist Society doing court packing to attack privacy rights as the underlying bedrock of Roe v. Wade and Griswold, Blaha's endorsements show she  holds women's rights and everyone's privacy as important. As an educator she knows the insidious nature of vouchers as touted by those wanting to disable quality public education by taking taxpayer money from public education for reallocation to sectarian and nonsectarian private schools, some being for-profit ventures.

In effect, it looks as if this is another DFL vs GOP contest where the GOP wants interference into the lives of others on the abortion issue, and where the GOP wants to disable effective public education. Ryan Wilson, Federalist Society and all, looks beneath the surface to be largely if not totally akin to Jensen/Birk and Jim Schultz, on abortion, vouchers, and other policy issues. 

As to allegations about transparency and depoliticization of anything, Wilson seems to dissemble in that he should be more open about his ALEC and Federalist Society links, something he does not tell people directly and where the DFL is having to disclose things about him.

Blaha's campaign website is not deceptive in any way. She says who she is and seems proud of her accomplishments in running the Auditor office. And proud of and open about her earlier career.

Last, back to the MinnPost focus on investment strategy in running pension plan decision-making which is a major part of duties of the office both candidates seek. What is prudent, what is not? What is the job, in that regard? Blaha has the track record. From MinnPost coverage, she's done the job well, while Wilson is an enigma saying ROI but little else.

________FURTHER UPDATE________

Further web search: With regard to the Wilson LinkedIn history, Medpace is real and headquartered in Cincinnati, continuing to exist, and the appearance is that it did a merger/acquisition with Symbios Clinical, to where the latter small Minnesota operation was absorbed into the larger out-of-state venture, with Wilson staying with the acquiring firm until that employment situation was ended in 2016. That seems a logical inference, absent Wilson telling us more. It says little of relevance to the Auditor job.

_______FURTHER UPDATE_________

MPR has good coverage. Crabgrass readers are urged to follow that link. Wilson, for one touting transparency, could not be found having any position on issues MPR deems important. Wilson also is opaque on what exactly he did after 2016, with "constitutional law" showing up in a place or two where the term could mean anything, including Federalist Society or ALEC pet projects. He needs to disclose more, while touting "transparency." Blaha positions are reported. As an example of opaqueness vs trahsparancy, from that MPR item:

Abortion

Blaha: “Health and human services are a significant part of local government budgets, so we need an auditor who understands that healthcare includes abortion. An auditor pushing an anti-abortion agenda could disrupt local access to reproductive care, particularly for low-income Minnesotans. I’m proud of my history supporting abortion rights as a president of the National Organization for Women of Minnesota and am proud to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s list,” Blaha told MPR News in a written statement.

Wilson: “It’s really not a part of our race,” he told MPR News.

_________FURTHER UPDATE________

This perhaps is a reach. But it seems a lock based on my wetware facial recognition equipment. Whether it is trustworthy, you decide.

From the Ryan Wilson website, mouths to feed, the population bomb still ticking:

 


From "The Northern Cross," an undated op-ed

Ryan Wilson: It’s time to take the ‘porn problem’ public

The Catholic faith has long drawn attention to the serious and sinister consequences of pornography on the human soul. In 2016, for instance, the USCCB released “Create in Me a Clean Heart,” a pastoral letter describing pornography’s ability to distort one’s understanding of human sexuality and stunt his or her capacity for self-giving love. The bishops condemned pornography as part of the “throwaway” culture and warned that its harms “include physiological, financial, emotional, mental, and spiritual effects.”

But for too long, the church’s warnings about the dangers of pornography were written off as unnecessary and even prudish moralizing from an institution that had long-ago grown out of touch with the realities of human life.

RyanWilson
Ryan Wilson
Faith in the Public Arena

In the last decade, though, science has begun to recognize what faith and morals have held true for years — that pornography has significant harmful effects to both the individual and the broader community, not just on the soul but on the human psyche. To address this reality, a bipartisan group of state legislators are proposing a resolution to declare pornography a public health crisis in Minnesota.

Harm to self

The “porn problem” has reached epidemic proportions. Over 77 percent of households contain pornographic material or have accessed it online in the last month. Nearly half of families report that pornography is a problem in their home.

The average age of first exposure to pornography is only 11-12 years old, and 93 percent of male teens have viewed pornography at least once. This is not surprising when a simple Google search on an iPad brings any child to an unending, unrestricted, free supply of vile sexual images and videos.

Early exposure is leading to lifelong consequences. Multiple medical studies using imaging testing have found that viewing pornography causes neuro-biological changes in children’s and teen’s brains. These brain images show the same pattern researchers observe in those suffering from serious drug addiction.

Tell me from the photos that it is not the same Ryan Wilson. A footer to that Northern Cross item: "Ryan Wilson is a law clerk at the Minnesota Catholic Conference."

The Northern Cross publication is top-captioned:



Does this identify candidate Wilson as yet another Catholic candidate, along with Matt Birk and Mike Schultz, with views on abortion and vouchers for sectarian schools similar to such other candidates with such outlooks?

You tell me. What is troubling, if the photo congruence/name is a correct association, what is this self-alleged "transparancy" maven up to in not being up front about who he is and what he's been doing since 2016, the last LinkedIn chrono date he offers.

Yes, he can be Catholic, not my business, but no, he cannot impose his religious biases upon me or anyone else, in a perfect world. Somebody looks at porn, it is no skin off my ass, nor Wilson's. Porn is a marketplace, lawful at present. Live and let live. 

That Northern Cross publication which Wilson presumably endorses by publishing there, recently published a couple of items that make Wilson's ducking the abortion question - questionable.

Editorial: Respect Life Month — after Roe

MOMS fight for abortion regulation return

 Of interest: https://www.dioceseduluth.org/presbyteral-council

https://www.mncatholic.org/

https://www.mncatholic.org/advocacy_areas 

https://thecatholicspirit.com/news/local-news/minnesota-bishops-emphasize-prenatal-justice-in-november-elections/

 https://thecatholicspirit.com/commentary/inside-the-capitol/whom-should-i-vote-for/

https://www.mncatholic.org/morning_air_family_security_act 

https://www.mncatholic.org/pro_life_moms_fight_for_abortion_regulation_return 

https://www.mncatholic.org/life_and_bioethics

 https://www.mncatholic.org/abortion - provocatively declaring in absolutist terms:

 Abortion is the human rights tragedy of our age and is unequivocally condemned by the Catholic Church. We must all work towards a society where no child is at risk of being murdered in the womb.

But while bans and restrictions play an important role, building a culture of life means more than just making abortion illegal. Our ultimate goal should be to create a society where no woman ever feels like abortion is her only choice. In addition to working to limit abortion and stop Minnesota tax-payer funding for this horrific practice, we should also pass public policy that supports mothers facing challenging pregnancies and should do more to expand the availability of adoption.


If you are interested in helping further the efforts to have a "Choose Life" license plate in Minnesota, you can visit: chooselifeminnesota.org.

Share this page to spread the word.

 https://www.mncatholic.org/gender_ideology stating in part:

The Minnesota Catholic Conference opposes the advancement of gender theory, especially in places where young people are affected. In recent years, this has included efforts against the MSHSL’s transgender student-athlete policy and the Minnesota Department of Education’s transgender toolkit. Currently, MCC is focused on protecting the conscience rights and religious liberties of those persons and organizations who refuse to embrace harmful gender ideologies.

Instead of harmful, unscientific approaches to gender and sexuality, we advocate for practices that help people struggling with gender identity disorders find healing and integration.

God created us male or female. Our biological sex is not an accident. It is a gift from God and shapes how we participate in His self-giving love.

https://www.mncatholic.org/education - stating:

Humans strive for heaven by being part of social communities on earth. Understanding one’s cultural heritage and making contributions to the common good are the responsibilities of any good citizen. Therefore, education is an inalienable human right, insofar as it is the process of preparing children to pursue salvation and contribute to the good of their earthly community. Parents have the duty of being the primary educators of their kids. Because of this serious responsibility, they have a right to great liberty in shaping the education of their children. While other institutions, including public schools, may share in the responsibility of educating a child, they do so with the implicit permission of a child’s parents, and should never supersede or marginalize parents in the education process.

We support public policies that support the role of Catholic schools and other non-public education institutions in Minnesota, and that affirm the rights of all parents to choose schools that best fit the educational needs of their children. We advocate for the equitable participation of non-public school students in state and federal education programs.

[linking to:  https://www.mncatholic.org/school_choice and https://www.mncatholic.org/non_public_pupil_aid -- the latter stating:

 

Non-public schools educate the Minnesota public. In fact, private schools serve nearly 100,000 Minnesota students each year. Therefore, the education of these children should be supported by our state’s public education dollars. Students at private schools have many needs outside of the realm of religious instruction, including textbooks, computer equipment, and other basic school needs.

MCC is committed to ensuring that Minnesota kids at non-public schools are receiving the aid and support they deserve. Our students are our future, no matter what school they attend.


Nonpublic Education Partners is a coalition of organizations working to advance a unified legislative agenda in support of nonpublic students in Minnesota.

 https://www.usccb.org/prolife

It is a massive online communication machine. If Ryan Wilson is a part of the belief system, he should own up to that truth, unless he thinks it best we be less informed voters. Two more links, only, in juxtaposition:

https://www.mncatholic.org/billtracker - listing bills with side colors, "

Red = Oppose

Green = Support

Gray = Monitoring or Seeking Amendment

And then -  https://www.mncatholic.org/electionresources - arguably in a strange juxtaposition fashion states

Parish Guidelines for Political Activity

As Catholics, we must never be afraid of bringing our faith into the public square. However, because the Church is not a political entity, we must make sure that our individual advocacy efforts are kept distinct from the Church’s teaching voice. This election resource, updated in June 2022, provides guidelines for parish and church organization political activity, clearly laying out which activities are prohibited and which are permissible.

[...] Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” is the official Election Year teaching of the U.S. Catholic bishops. This resource provides guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy, lifting up our dual heritage as both faithful Catholics and American citizens. The Faithful Citizenship webpage includes additional resources, such as bulletin inserts and informational videos.

Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics

Read through "Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics". Originally released in 1998 by the USCCB, “Living the Gospel of Life” is still a viable election resource for American Catholics looking to form their consciences in preparation for elections in 2020. It contextualizes our present-day policy debates within deeper shifts and trends in society’s consideration of human life and dignity.

 Some might view that juxtaposition as fine, others might see it as problematic.

BOTTOM LINE: Given the Catholic Church's advocacy against abortion as a privacy right of women, against personal body autonomy, and indirectly but ultimately against privacy as a fundamental Constitutional right - the exact Alito and Thomas opinions, via Leonard Leo's Federalist Society court packing agenda, etc.; given all that, to suggest it politically incorrect to point out candidate religions (and suggest there is adherence to Catholic belief among Catholic candidates) is nonsense because it is politically correct beyond debate that informed voters are better voters. This is particularly true for this election, with abortion access being a current burning societal issue given how a Catholic Supreme Court majority murdered Roe v Wade

And if the appearance of a "Ryan Wilson" photo congruence between "Ryan Wilson" candidate and a "Ryan Wilson" Catholic religious outlet commentator is coincidental, not the same person, then there would not be a "transparency" deceit. 

Likewise, if candidate and "Faith in the Public Arena" commentator (identified at the end of a web post as "a law clerk at the Minnesota Catholic Conference") is one and the same individual, why would the man decline to disclose such to the public?

All we can say, there is circumstantial evidence, again, suggesting a likelihood that ducking going on record on abortion by Wilson is a self-contradiction to his ostensibly running on "transparency."