Rolling in War Bucks

How the state public employees' retirement system and the politically connected Carlyle Group profit from defense

Still, as the generally staid New York Timesnoted in a recent unsigned editorial, "It is hard to enter the debate over postwar Iraq without tripping over a business associate or political ally of the White House." There is indeed a debate about the appearance of financial favoritism by members of the Bush administration, particularly in regard to defense and foreign affairs. Carlyle has become part of that debate.

I asked Pacheco, the CalPERS spokesman, whether the media controversy surrounding Carlyle had ever caused the retirement system board to rethink its investment strategy with the firm. He said he's been with CalPERS eight years and does not remember any such discussion, and a check of records for CalPERS board meetings also found none.

I was unable last week to reach Angelides or other CalPERS board members who might want to talk about the CalPERS-Carlyle connection. I think it's about time that the board and the retirement system's membership have a real discussion about that link, and openness, and defense investment, before someone trips while reading a retirement statement.

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