ALBANY, N.Y. — Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is usually considered one of the more mild-mannered elected officials in New York, but on Tuesday, the comptroller was energized by a report issued by the Cuomo administration that criticized his handling of the state pension fund. The report has reignited a bitter feud between DiNapoli and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I am who I am. I’m too old to change. I’m going to do my job the way people expect me to do,” DiNapoli, D-New York, told Talk 1300 in Albany. “I’m going to stand up for the pension fund even when people attack it. I’m going to defend my staff when they do the right things.
DiNapoli is hitting back at a report released by the Financial Services department, taking his office to task for high fees the state pension fund incurs from hedge fund managers. The report came as DiNapoli has called for greater oversight of Cuomo’s economic development programs, including more transparency and review of procurement in the wake of an alleged bid-rigging scheme that has engulfed a former top lieutenant to the governor.
“I’ll channel my inner Michelle Obama. They go low, we go high, and I’m not going to change from that,” DiNapoli said.
State budget expert E.J. McMahon with the Empire Center for Public Policy says the report wasn’t incorrect in pointing out the issue of high fees.
“Are the fees high in isolation and are they questionable? Yes. Frankly, I think the public pension funds should get out of hedge funds and other types of investments that carry high risk,” said McMahon, Empire Center president.
The report went as far as to question whether DiNapoli’s office should have oversight of procurement once again; a topic that has only come up after the arrests.
“The problem with the report is not what it said in substance, but really the snarky political overlay that went with it,” McMahon said.
The report even dusted off a Cuomo proposal that DiNapoli no longer be the sole trustee of the pension fund.
“It’s not unusual in a political environment to see hatchet jobs masquerade as substantive policy reports. This is the first time I remember seeing a substantive policy report trying to masquerade as a hatchet job,” said McMahon.
In a statement, Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo said she was standing by the report and criticized DiNapoli’s rhetoric.
© 2016 Time Warner Cable News
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