Pressure building on Pew to cut ties with foundation

Public pension fund groups are pressuring the Pew Charitable Trusts to stop taking money from a foundation to finance Pew's Public Sector Retirement Systems Project.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Houston, is contributing up to $4.85 million over three years; that contract ends in December and may be renewed.

Some public pension fund association executives criticize the foundation's mission and funding recipients, which include some conservative and Libertarian groups that oppose public defined benefit plans.

“Pew's relationship with the Arnold Foundation does not pass the smell test,” said Meredith Williams, Denver-based executive director of the National Council on Teacher Retirement.

In February, New York Public Broadcasting Service station WNET abruptly canceled a series on public pensions, called “Pension Peril,” that was solely funded by the foundation to the tune of $3.5 million. The money was returned.

Calls to Pew for comment were not returned by press time. n

This article originally appeared in the March 3, 2014 print issue as, "Pressure building on Pew to cut ties with foundation".