Republican candidate Christian Fong says if he’s elected governor, he’ll issue an executive order that forbids state agencies from hiring lobbyists. Fong says it’s important to stop the cycle which sees state agency lobbyists who earn a taxpayer-funded salary asking legislators for more money for their agency.
Fong also promises to appoint “the very best people” to state boards and commissions. Fong says that means he will not appoint people to boards as a political payback for past support.
“We’re talking about reinventing state government, as somebody that comes from the private sector that doesn’t have to pay off all these politicians,” Fong says. “…You get the people in place, whether it’s in a state agency or in a state board and commission that can make the very best decisions possible, reinventing — at times — the way operations work within that agency, that board or that commission. That’s my commitment.”
Fong is an executive at a Cedar Rapids-based insurance company who used to manage AEGON’s commercial real estate portfolio. This past spring, he moved to steering the firm’s investments in Asian markets. Given his investment background, Fong says he would ensure a majority of members of the board that oversees the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System are investment fund managers.
“For somebody to be making a $2 or 3 billion investment decision, I think most Iowans would just look and say, ‘Hey, it’s common sense to expect that they would have a high level of expertise,” Fong says.
The IPERS fund suffered a $4 billion loss last year and the board that oversees the fund is considering options to plug that hole. Just one of the 11 members of that board works as an investment fund manager.
“I’m not saying that the people on it are inexperienced political appointees,” Fong says. “I’m making a commitment that, as governor, I would put experienced investment professionals on that board.”
Terms on the IPERS board last six years and Fong says he would consider appointing people willing to do only two or three year stints, as six years is a long commitment.