Bloomberg News has an article about the American Federation of Teachers "watch list" of money managers who donate to groups that support reform of defined benefit public pension funds, which we wrote about here earlier. "It's a means to shut up organizations," the article quotes Larry Mone, the president of one targeted non-profit organization, the Manhattan Institute, as saying.
The article includes this passage about Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund manager who at least so far has admirably resisted the pressure from the teachers union and its president, Randi Weingarten:
Weingarten says Loeb should address his conflict of interest.
"All we tried to do is get him to answer the simple question: about harmonizing his want to advise hundreds of millions of dollars of hard-working teacher pension funds while sitting on the board of StudentsFirst, which is a group that's trying to kill their retirement benefits," she said in a telephone interview.
"He probably has never had anybody respectfully and nicely ask him a question that he didn't want to answer."
I don't quite see that this amounts to a "conflict of interest." If the goal is not to leave taxpayers on the hook for pension shortfalls, it can be achieved either by excellent performance or by reforming the pension system, or by both. As to Ms. Weingarten's strange speculation about Mr. Loeb's past experience with questions, it's not clear to me whether the speculation itself meets Ms. Weingarten's own criteria of being either nice or respectful.
It may be that the teachers union effort to quash public policy debate about public pension reform has the perverse effect of backfiring by attracting public attention to a issue that sometimes is described as dull.