Pension study from union slams RI treasurer

A public-sector union issued a report Thursday harshly criticizing Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo over state investments in hedge funds and a recent pension overhaul.

The study was commissioned by Rhode Island Council 94, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

"One day we want to retire. We want to retire with dignity," said J. Michael Downey, president of Rhode Island Council 94.

Council 94, which is suing the state over pension changes approved by lawmakers and championed by Raimondo, paid former SEC attorney and founder of Benchmark Financial Services Inc. Edward Siedle $20,000 to write the 104-page report.

The study accuses Raimondo of enriching hedge fund managers through management fees at the expense of public workers and retirees whose retirement benefits were cut.

"Dollar for dollar, workers' retirement savings are going to hedge fund millionaires," Siedle said.

Siedle claims the treasurer's office refused to release several key documents regarding which investors were making money off the pension fund and exactly how much money had been lost.

"The findings in this report really only represent the tip of the iceberg. The most damaging information, the treasurer has refused to provide and is not discussing," Siedle said.

Council 94 plans to submit the report to the SEC with a request or further investigation.

Raimondo, a Democrat, is expected to run for governor. She told NBC 10 that the report's accusations are false.

"This has been produced by an out-of-town person who is being paid tens of thousands of dollars to take political attacks at me," Raimondo said.

She said the hedge funds helped revitalize the state pension fund. Raimondo said there's been millions made in returns, which means retired state workers will get their money.

"We reformed that system because we had a system in crisis and if we didn't fix it, people wouldn't have gotten pensions," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.