Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California teachers press pension fund to divest from gunmaker

Cerberus Capital Management has tried unsuccessfully to sell Freedom Group, which manufactures the Bushmaster rifle, seen here, that was used in the Newtown school shooting.
Cerberus Capital Management has tried unsuccessfully to sell Freedom Group, which manufactures the Bushmaster rifle, seen here, that was used in the Newtown school shooting. The Associated Press

Amid a legislative push this year for California’s public pension systems to divest from coal, a new controversy is brewing over the California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s investment in a gunmaker tied to the Newtown school shooting.

Following the elementary school massacre in December 2012, CalSTRS pledged to sell its holdings in companies that make firearms that are illegal in California. The policy extends to Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm that owns the manufacturer Freedom Group, whose Bushmaster rifle brand was used in the Newtown shooting. Two years later, however, the pension fund still has $375 million invested in Cerberus.

The California Federation of Teachers has planned two protests today calling on CalSTRS to follow through with its divestment promise. A “teach-in” and video screening will take place at 11:30 a.m. outside the CalSTRS building in West Sacramento, before teachers present petitions to a meeting of the pension fund’s board. A similar rally is planned outside Cerberus’ office in Brentwood at 11 a.m.

CalSTRS has expressed sympathy with the union’s frustration, but says it cannot unload its investment in Cerberus, nor can it force Cerberus to sell Freedom. Dale Kasler has more on the dilemma.

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Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.

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