Pew Research Center
Known States active: KS, KY, AL, VA, PA, SC, CT, NH, VT
John Arnold has a long-standing relationship with the Pew Research Center and its Public Sector Retirement Systems project. Since 2012, Arnold has given Pew almost $10 million in two separate grants. Pew has used this money to actively lobby state legislatures to abandon traditional pensions and switch to retirement plans that offer less retirement security at greater cost. Due to Pew’s reputation as a nonpartisan research organization, their recommendations are often accepted by state legislators without being critically examined. Arnold uses Pew’s sterling reputation as a Trojan Horse to hide attacks on public pensions.
Retirement Security Initiative
Known States active: CA, NE, KY, MI
The Retirement Security Initiative (RSI) is a relatively new organization, founded in 2015, but its members have a long and sordid history with public pensions. RSI’s two figureheads are Chuck Reed, the former mayor of San Jose, and Dan Liljenquist, a former Utah state senator. Reed led the infamous changes to pension benefits in San Jose, changes that were mostly rejected following a lengthy and expensive court battle. Liljenquist authored changes to Utah’s pension system, which resulted in a switch to a hybrid plan that is now causing the state to struggle with recruitment and retention. The chief executive officer of RSI is Pete Constant, a noted anti-pension ideologue who is also affiliated with the libertarian Reason Foundation. John Arnold and his wife have personally funded RSI with a donation of between $1 million and $5 million.
Known States active: MI, IA, AZ, CO, SC
The Reason Foundation is a prominent national libertarian organization. Hostility to public pensions and almost anything else in the public sector is a key part of Reason’s mission. Arnold has given Reason over $3 million. This year Reason traveled to various states and advocated against traditional public pensions. In Iowa, they offered to do a “cost-free” analysis of the state’s public pension system for the Republican state legislature, which is considering making changes to the system. Pete Constant, a former senior fellow at Reason, is also the executive director of the Arnold-funded Retirement Security Initiative.