Putting an End to Ohio's Investment in Terrorist-Sponsoring Iran by Rep.

Shannon Jones If I told you that your tax dollars are supporting terrorism you probably wouldn’t believe me. The very idea sounds absurd in this age of increased homeland security and terror threat levels. But sadly it is true. As you may know, the state of Ohio has several pension funds that support our teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and other government workers. Preserving the hard-earned retirement dollars of those who protect and serve us is an extraordinarily important task. You can only imagine, then, how shocked I was to learn that billions of these pension dollars are currently invested in foreign companies doing business with the terrorist-sponsoring government of Iran. Investing our pension funds – and other state assets – in foreign companies who are doing business in Iran is risky and wrong. And it must be stopped. Let me be very clear, while federal law forbids U.S. companies from doing business in Iran – because such activity is risky to investors and to our national security – it is not illegal for Ohio pension systems to invest in foreign companies who can do business with Iran. For example, it is legal for a French company to do business in Iran under French law. It is likewise legal for Ohio’s pension systems to invest in that French company. The French company may have every right to partner with Iran, but it is not prudent for us to do business with that French company. While these foreign companies may not directly support terrorism, make no mistake, doing business with Iran in any form supports the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world. To me, it is pretty simple. Ohio taxpayers and pension owners ought not be supporting our enemies – even inadvertently – through our hard-earned tax and retirement dollars. Doing so is not only morally reprehensible but it also exposes our taxpayers and pension owners to risk related losses. In order to address both the moral and financial consequences of this investment policy, I recently introduced legislation, along with State Representative Josh Mandel (R-Lynhurst), to divest our pension funds and other state assets from these risky and wrong investments. Fortunately we aren’t alone in this crusade to divest public money from foreign companies who do business in terrorist-sponsoring states. Currently Florida, California, Georgia and Pennsylvania are considering similar legislation. Just last year, Missouri’s State Treasurer Sarah Steelman became the first Treasurer of State to invest “terror-free” and this new investment portfolio has even outperformed its benchmark by a startling 3.9 percent. To be clear, not only is Missouri investing “terror-free” without harming returns, but it is also bettering its peers by a substantial margin in market terms. I’m pleased to report that testimony on our bill began just this week. In fact, Deborah Burlingame, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, testified before committee on behalf of our bill. Ms. Burlingame’s brother, Chic Burlingame, was the pilot of the hijacked airliner that was flown into the Pentagon on that fateful morning. Her testimony saddened me and yet it encouraged me to continue the fight to demand this important investment policy change. I think Ms. Burlingame said it best, “It is significant to me that the first successful Divest Terror program was initiated in the state of Missouri, that Illinois followed suit and that legislators here in Ohio have sponsored this strong divestment bill. These states represent the heartland of our country. It was the heartland that saved us from despair on 9/11 when we in New York and Washington were on our knees. It is the heartland whose sons and daughters are doing most of the heavy lifting in our military. It is not surprising at all to me that the heartland is leading the way with divestment, giving our government and the international community the clout they need to

send Iran’s leaders a clear, unequivocal message. Applying economic pressure is something we, as citizens frustrated and concerned for our children in an increasingly dangerous world, can do without firing a shot, or shedding a drop of blood.” The bottom line question is: Does Ohio really want to invest in foreign companies that are willing to do business with an Iranian government that underwrites terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and is rapidly building nuclear weapons capability? I think the answer is an emphatic no. Thus, I will continue to work diligently for passage of this bill to protect our tax and retirement dollars – and our families – from the scourge of terrorism. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding “terror-free” investing or any other state related matter. You can reach my office at (614) 644-6027 or write me, Representative Shannon Jones, at 77 S. High St. Columbus, Ohio 43215.