Troubled by the prevalence of offensive and derogatory material in the media, State Senator Antoine Thompson and Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith today released a report Thompson solicited from State Comptroller DiNapoli detailing $2.8 billion worth of state pension fund investments in the entertainment industry.
“Now is the time to have an open dialogue about corporate responsibility and the need to ensure that state government also exercises responsibility with its use of investments,” said Smith (D-Queens). “We cannot allow state money to be tied up in companies that profit from depictions of illicit behavior or derogatory representations of women and minorities.”
In April, Smith wrote letters to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin and former radio talk show host Don Imus about Imus' on-air behavior when he made insensitive, racially charged remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team.
Thompson (D-Buffalo) and Smith said they want to examine whether entertainment companies in which New York State investments are currently held have profited from offensive content. Once such an evaluation is conducted, the senators will decide on a course of action, which may include urging Comptroller DiNapoli to divest from companies that promote illicit material if they don't take corrective action.
“If New York State employees and retirees knew how many millions of their dollars were being invested in the entertainment industry, they would be outraged,” said Thompson, who requested the inventory of entertainment industry investments in a letter to the state Comptroller earlier this year.
“Certainly we have an obligation to ensure the fiscal health of our state pension and benefit funds, but we also have an obligation to ensure that New York State does not inadvertently support the glorification of unhealthy behavior and cultural attitudes that are so ingrained in the entertainment industry and so demeaning to many New Yorkers,” Thompson added.
According to Comptroller DiNapoli's office, New York State holds investments in the following entertainment companies: