Rick Metsger's TV Spot

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

The Democratic primary race for state treasurer continues to pick up steam.

State Senator Rick Metsger (D-Welches) has a new spot out that highlights his record of working with credit unions - and promises to hold Wall Street accountable.


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    While I admit that I am biased because I am a Ted Wheeler supporter, I don't think this works as a political ad. It implies that he will take on Wall Street and that seems like a stretch for the Treasurer of Oregon. The credit union part is good, but that doesn't add up to enought to win.

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      I would have to agree with Kari's comments. Additionally, I would submit the commercial achieved what any political ad should strive to achieve: introduce, inform, ideas and endorsements. As such, I think the ad "works" as is more effective than the implication reigning in treasury department perks is going to fund education.

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    I disagree, John. I think there's a lot that the Treasurer can do to improve practices on Wall Street.

    For example, Ted Wheeler has proposed using Oregon's shareholder votes to bring needed reforms to corporations in which we hold stock. (As opposed to the more traditional practice of pension funds, which is to abstain from corporate governance votes.)

    I'm not as familiar with what Rick is proposing, but I imagine it's something similar.

    [Full disclosure: My firm built Ted Wheeler's campaign website. I speak only for myself.]

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    Can anyone cite an example of shareholder votes changing corporate practices?

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    First of all I agree with Jack that it is hard to find any substantive cases where shareholders changed the corp. culture. They have been used to replace management mostly with takeovers with the intent to get more money for shareholders, not to change the culture of corruption on wall street.

    However, my point is that I look at the ad as Rick trying to claim that he will fix things that have eluded Congress, Obama, and bigger states and is a little preposterous. Whether the average voter sees it the same way may be asking too much.

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    Even though I think that Metsger is an awesome guy, I agree with John. It isn't that Metsger wouldn't have influence. It also isn't the case that the State of Oregon is inevitably exposed to murky financial products and overvalued assets. However, protecting us from them would be a radical departure from business as usual. Does Metsger intend to challenge reigning economic paradigms? If so, his ads don't make you believe it.

    But I also feel that Oregon has been really lucky in the past decade with its investments. People who attribute it to skill are probably exaggerating the portion of it that is shrewdness and downplaying the luck involved. It only takes one mistake, fraud, or act of negligence to wipe out many years of gains.

    Furthermore, what Kari suggested - Ted Wheeler's idea for using shareholder votes to reform companies - is problematic for two reasons: First, because you must be invested in the company and therefore already exposed to the risk in order to vote in this way; Second, because reforms are not automatically effective - indeed, why would Oregon invest in a poorly managed company to begin with? That argument really relates to the way the companies behave (IE treatment of workers, consumers, and environmental record) something that applies to traditional companies but not so much to Wall Street financial giants that mostly make money "on paper". Hell, if Oregon had somehow invested in Goldman Sachs and reformed their corporate culture, they wouldn't have made any money and the investment considered a failure!

    I actually believe that public entities, including retirement plans, shouldn't invest in stock markets at all. There's really no reason to: current receipts can simply be used to pay current beneficiaries. Strategically, why would Dems ever advocate for public investing in financial markets when gains can only trigger a kicker and losses lead to cuts in services and undermine trust in government? That being said, there are a lot of banking and insurance type functions that are arguably better served by a public trust than a company based out of Bermuda that has been more or less exempted from Oregon regulations. This brings me to the Bank of Oregon idea...

    But I digress. My point is that the ad is not persuasive. For one thing who are the young people standing around Metsger? Are those his campaign staff? and why is he dressed casually in a park when he is fighting back against a serious topic? Finally, this Ad suffers from "underpants gnome" syndrome, because Metsger doesn't tell the viewer - or even hint at - how.

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    Can a Treasurer impact Wall Street? Absolutely- as elected representatives of the public and the pensioners. Regarding proxy voting- Oregon already does it- and yes, engagement works. Last year, we voted our proxy under Westlund. From Wiki:"On April 29, 2009, Bank of America shareholders narrowly voted to separate the positions of Chairman of the Board and CEO, effectively removing CEO Lewis from his position as Chairman of the Board of BofA, though he remained both the bank's president and its CEO."

    Oregon also helped defeat Royal Dutch Shell's compensation proposal to shareholders last year. Corporate boards are supposed to represent shareholders' best interests, and when they don't, shareholders have a responsibility, through resolutions and proxy votes to ensure accountability through corporate governance.

    Right now, pensions are banding together to withold support in an upcoming May 18 annual meeting from three board members of Massey Energy following the deadly mine explosion who all were members of the policy committee responsible for safety. Oregon uses a company called Glass Lewis to vote our proxy and they have recommended against these board members. "Due to the history of safety problems at the mine in question, as well as at other company operations, coupled with the significant financial impact on the company from this incident, potentially due to faulty safety practices, we believe that shareholders would be better served by new board oversight,"

    We recently formed the Westlund Institute, a c4 organization that Ben had started to create, to work with state financial leaders on these very issues. He believed that if the nation's Treasurers could band together around progressive policy, they could have a positive impact on our economy and our quality of life.


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