State Treasurer targerts corporate misbehavior

    Since being elected Pennsylvania State Treasurer in 2008, Bryn Mawr businessman Rob McCord has used the state’s financial clout to weigh in on and a variety of social reform issues.

    McCord is using the office’s visibility and the leverage of the its securities holdings to advance an agenda of climate change awareness, transparency in corporate management, and campaign finance reform.

    McCord has joined a group of officials from other states, mostly Democrats, who condemn companies that take advantage of court decisions allowing them to fund political attack ads anonymously.

    The Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending tries to get corporations to voluntarily disclose their political contributions, even if they can legally avoid doing so.

    McCord said he was particularly troubled by reports that six health insurance companies operating in Pennsylvania were putting 10 million dollars into ads on health reform.

    “We wrote to all of the companies saying, what are you doing, and will you disclose?” McCord said.

    Only one of the six insurance firms responded, and so far none has pledged to refrain from secret contributions. McCord said the coalition will decide how to respond to companies that ignore their requests.

    McCord has also joined a group called the Investor Network on Climate Risk, and he’s hired a consultant to monitor companies’ records on corporate governance and social responsibility.

    He was also a public critic of spending at the Delaware River Port Authority after newspaper stories focused on the agency. And earlier this year he sued the state Gaming Control Board. The board was excluding him from executive sessions, even though the State Treasurer is an ex-officio member.

    McCord’s activism on social issues gets more attention than his routine work on investments, which McCord says he enjoys and has the experience to do well.

    Franklin and Marshall College political analyst said McCord’s public stances on social issues are one way of advancing a promising political career.

    “Most analysts believe he’s a future gubernatorial candidate,” Madonna said in a telephone interview. “He’s relatively young, he’s Harvard-educated, and he’s drawn high marks as State Treasurer.”

    With the departure of Gov. Rendell and U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, McCord will be one of the state’s most prominent Democrats. McCord said he understands that some will see political motives in his activism.

    “It’s a fair question,” McCord said. “I mean you always have to be concerned about showboating, and I concede that, and I invite appropriate skeptical review.”

    McCord said he believes when Pennsylvanians look at the specific issues he’s taken on, most will conclude he’s doing the right thing.

     

    You can read more on Rob McCord and hear a longer interview with him on the blog Dave Davies Off Mic.

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