Peter’s Projection

As we discussed on Thursday’s edition of Red Maryland Radio, Peter Franchot has launched his 2022 Democratic campaign for Governor by weighing in on Alabama’s abortion law.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is asking officials to review whether the state’s pension system has investments in Alabama, which just enacted a law that bans almost all abortions.

Franchot, a Democrat, noted in a Facebook post on Thursday that he can’t control Alabama lawmakers “who choose to weaponize their system of laws to punish women who are already experiencing great vulnerability.”

“However,” he continued, “I can work to ensure that Maryland’s taxpayer dollars are not used to subsidize extremism.”

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Franchot serves as vice chairman of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System. He said he’ll ask the pension system’s managers to review any assets that the state has in Alabama and whether it works with any investment managers or brokers that have offices there.

He also will ask the retirement system not to send any employees or trustees to Alabama for any meetings or conferences.

We’re not going to litigate the Alabama abortion law here: there is plenty of debate between pro-lifers about the law, the capability of its enforcement, and whether or not it’s good for the pro-life movement. So while we obviously support the idea of banning abortion, let’s leave the utility of Alabama’s law aside.

The real question though is why Peter Franchot is stepping into this debate in the first place.

Let’s face it: Peter Franchot’s life is not affected by the new abortion law in Alabama. The lives of women in Maryland, a state that already has the right to an abortion codified in state law, are not affected by the new abortion law in Alabama.

In fact, there’s only one group of Marylanders who are really invested in defeating the new abortion law in Alabama: radical left-wing Democratic voters that make up a large chunk of Democrats who will be voting in the 2022 primary for Governor.

Yes, Franchot’s declaration about pensions is all about the next gubernatorial election.

While that may sound like something that’s just a political game, its’ no laughing matter for those who have Maryland state pensions. Peter Franchot is literally playing with their livelihood and their money by making this kind of proclamation. If it turns out that the pension board does have investments in Alabama, and if Franchot does convince the pension board to divest itself of Alabama-related holdings, then that will certainly impact the bottom line of retirees. This is even more so when you consider that these Alabama-related investments may be sold short, bringing in negative returns.

What’s worse is that Franchot’s political pension posturing comes at a time when state pensions are already seriously underfunded. A Maryland Public Policy Institute study last year showed that the best case scenario for the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System was for the system to have $20.5 billion in unfunded liabilities by Fiscal Year 2026. That’s the best case scenario. But instead of focusing on ways to fix that, Franchot decided to worry more about Alabama abortion laws than the fiscal solvency of pensioners.

Why does Peter Franchot value his political career over the future of Maryland retirees? Somebody should ask him that.

What makes Franchot’s decision to advocate boycotting and divesting from Alabama is the fact that two years ago one of the opponents of such a policy was……Peter Franchot. In 2017 Franchot wrote a letter in support of House Bill 949 and Senate Bill 739 which opposed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement targeted at Israel by prohibiting companies that supported the anti-Israel boycott from investing in the pension fund.

In 2017 Franchot took the correct stand in opposing a boycott of Israel that was based on religious discrimination. Two years later, Franchot supports boycotting Alabama because Alabama no longer wants unborn children to be legally killed in their borders. Franchot’s hypocrisy on this knows no bounds.

Hopefully, this gives a lot of conservatives and Republicans some pause about their unrestricted support for Franchot in the future. No doubt that Franchot has been an ally to Governor Larry Hogan in keeping the budget in check and supporting craft brewers. But if you’ve been reading Red Maryland all these years, you know that Franchot is a Takoma Park liberal, a combination of Diogenes and Rodney Dangerfield known to launch tirades against “the rich”,  misuse the office for other purposes, and generally been an activist for left-wing causes. You’d also know that this isn’t the first time that Franchot has played politics with the pension fund, something that he’s been doing for over a decade.

As far as Franchot goes:

A lot (and I mean a lot) of Republicans voted for Peter Franchot in the 2018 Election. They’re people from all walks of life, including elected officials. Far too many conservatives have said they would be ok with the idea of Peter Franchot being governor from 2022. Compared to some of the other Democrats, Franchot may be a lot better and more reasonable. But at the end of day Franchot is a Takoma Park liberal and he will always regress to the activist, left-wing politician that he always been. His call for an Alabama boycott is merely an extension of his already existent extremism. Hopefully, some more of our fellow conservatives will recognize that and get a little more serious about keeping Franchot accountable.

Regardless of your thoughts on the issue, politicians should not be trying to play games with the state pension funds to score cheap political points for a primary election three years away. This is inexcusable and disqualifying; we deserve better than what Peter Franchot is offering.

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