Obama’s pension includes Chinese and Cayman investments

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama and his supporters continue to slash at Gov. Mitt Romney for keeping some of his private-sector wealth overseas, even though the president’s Illinois pension is also invested in Chinese companies and a fund in the Cayman Islands.

“When he talks about getting tough on China, keep in mind that Gov. Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China, and is currently investing in countries — in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks,” Obama insisted during the Oct. 16 presidential debate at Hofstra University.

The president’s overseas wealth is part of the pension he earned from his six years in Democratic-run Illinois legislature. The pension, which is worth between $50,000 and $100,000, is managed by the Illinois State Board of Investment.

The board has invested its assets — which include money owed to Obama and numerous other Illinois Democrat legislators, political appointees and civil servants — in a variety of revenue-generating funds and companies.

The board operates under state rules that bar investments in companies that do business with the Islamic government of Sudan. But there are no limits on investments in funds and companies that aren’t connected with Sudan.

One of the board’s funds, Advent International Group VI-A, is based in the Cayman Islands.

The fund is run by Advent CR, Inc., which is a subsidiary of Advent CR Holdings, Inc., a Delaware corporation and the legal “parent” of “Advent International GPE VI-A Limited Partnership, a Cayman Islands limited partnership,” according to a August 2009 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The board’s 2011 report says that Cayman fund is worth $17.5 million, or 0.00015 percent of the $11.5 billion fund, which is split among hundreds of investment vehicles.

The pension fund has also invested in a series of Chinese companies, including government-run companies.

In 2011, 19 percent of board’s funds, worth $2 billion, was invested in foreign companies. Obama’s share of that foreign investment is less than $20,000.

Chinese companies — including their managers and workers — operate under China’s authoritarian government, whose leading families simultaneously own companies and hold government posts. Their workers earn far less than American workers, and their safety and working conditions are usually significantly worse.

The board’s 2011 report said it owned a $1 million bank loan held by Sensata Technologies. Obama’s share of that loan is under a dollar.

Sensata is closing its U.S. facility to move 170 jobs into China, prompting outrage from Democrats, who have used Sensata as a club against Romney. The GOP presidential nominee’s money-managers have also invested a slice of his wealth in the company.

Late Friday, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz hosted his evening show outside the closed Sensata plant, along with what appeared to be dozens of laid-off employees. Schultz called the Freeport, Illinois location of the plant ‘Bainport,’ and spent most of the show telling viewers to vote for President Obama.

99 Uniting, a progressive group, is also highlighting Romney’s ties to the company, and on Oct. 17, several protesters were arrested during a protest at the plant.

However, 99 United declined to comment The Daily Caller about Obama’s ties, via the Illinois pension fund, to the company.

Obama also used the September Democratic National Convention to lash out at Romney’s overseas investments.

“Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport,” claimed Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. “It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps,” he said.

Strickland even used the Bible to attack Romney. “In Matthew, chapter 6, verse 21, the scriptures teach us that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also … [and] any man who aspires to be our president should keep both his treasure and his heart in the United States of America,” Strickland claimed.

“It’s well past time for Mitt Romney to come clean with the American people,” Strickland told an audience of roughly 20,000 cheering Democrats.

When Romney was criticized by Obama during last week’s presidential debate for his overseas investments, the former business executive and GOP presidential nominee pushed back.

“Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust,” Romney countered.

“They do include investments outside the United States, including in — in Chinese companies … [and] you also have investments in Chinese companies … [and] investments through a Cayman’s trust,” Romney said.

“There is a qualitative difference between Romney’s partnership profit stake in funds run by the company he founded and ran for more than 15 years, and [Obama’s] state pension fund, which is run by Illinois State Board of Investment,” a staffer at Obama’s campaign told The Daily Caller.

President Obama had a pithier answer during the debate.

“Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?” Romney said, before he was interrupted by CNN anchor Candy Crowley.

“I don’t look at my pension,” retorted Obama. “It’s not as big as yours.”

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Neil Munro