Crony Capitalism in Action **** RETRACTED ****

Josh Marshall reports a truly surreal story [*]: Jeb Bush just had the Florida public employees pension fund buy all the stock in the Edison Project, Chris Whittle’s disastrous foray into privatized education. [St. Petersburg Times story here.] In the immortal words of Doonesbury’s Uncle Duke, “But the pension fund was just sitting there!”

Can some lawyer among my readers tell me whether the fund’s beneficiaries have standing to sue?

Update A reader notes that the investment company is formally independent of the pension plan, of which it is the sole client, and that the pension plan manager and the governor both deny that they had any role in deciding about the Edison investment. You can believe those denials, if you like. That means assuming that it just happened that a company with strong right-wing political ties and a mission strongly approved of by the right wing, including the Governor of Florida and his brother, got bailed out by a pension fund of which the governor is one of three trustees, just by coincidence.

Second update and retraction The reader points out that the investment advisor has been working for Florida since the Chiles Administration. Given that fact, and absent any direct evidence of hanky-panky, I have to conclude that I here committed a truly remarkable feat: I accused Jeb Bush of a malfeasance of which he was not demonstrably guilty. My apologies to him, and to you, and my (grudging) thanks to the reader who kept pounding on me until I could see my error.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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