Comptroller - 2018 General

New York State

Comptroller

 ENDORSED CANDIDATE

Thomas DiNapoli – Democrat
Candidate has returned a questionnaire 
Age: 64
Occupation: New York State Comptroller
Education: Hofstra University, B.A.; The New School, M.A.

Thomas DiNapoli became the 54th Comptroller of the State of New York in 2007 and previously represented District 16 in the state Assembly for two decades. His priorities are to continue the effective management of the state pension fund, curtail fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer resources, advance procurement reform, and provide robust oversite of local governments and school districts. DiNapoli views the Office of the State Comptroller’s (OSC) audit power as a key oversight tool to combat obscure state spending, including spending by public authorities. He is responsible for introducing the Procurement Integrity Act – state legislation that would restore the Comptroller’s authority to review state contracts and act as an independent watchdog to ensure that rules, including WMBE rules, are followed. On pension fund investment, while he views his fiduciary responsibility as the bottom line, he also considers environmental and social issues when investing. Citizens Union believes that DiNapoli has stabilized and professionalized the OSC during his tenure and hopes he will use his audit authority more aggressively to root out waste and impropriety, and advance a culture of transparency in Albany. For these reasons, Citizens Union endorses Thomas DiNapoli.

 

Mark Dunlea – Green
Candidate has returned a questionnaire 
Age: 64
Occupation: Political Organizer/Attorney
Education: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, B.S.; Albany Law School, J.D.

Mark Dunlea is a climate change and anti-poverty activist, as well as an attorney, author, academic, and news correspondent. He is the chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting green principles, and was a founding member of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Dunlea’s priorities are to divest the state pension fund from fossil fuels, advocate for fair taxes, expand efforts to address corruption at the state and local level, increase audits of state and local government, and advocate for campaign finance and ethics reform. Dunlea is committed to limiting the influence of money on politics and believes that the OSC must be completely independent of the executive branch and special interests. To this end, he has avoided corporate campaign donations. He makes a case for redefining the role of the OSC to be a more vigorous watchdog and to use its audit authority to advance an agenda of environmental sustainability, income equality, and ethics reform. Citizens Union is impressed by Mark Dunlea’s knowledge of the issues and ideas for improving the OSC, but is concerned that he is not waging a particularly viable campaign.

 

Jonathan Trichter – Republican
Candidate has returned a questionnaire 
Age: 47
Occupation: Investment Banker/Public Finance Expert
Education: Emory University, B.A.

Jonathan Trichter is an investment banker and public finance expert who served as the policy director for Harry Wilson’s 2010 campaign for state Comptroller. His priorities are to institute a ban on investing pension funds in alternative asset funds; passively invest the fund’s equity holdings in low-cost index funds; refuse to certify budgets that contain what he calls “gimmicks” and “fiscal chicanery” that renders them unbalanced or non- transparent; and run a politically neutral pension fund that reduces fees and maximizes returns for retirees. Trichter wants to index the portfolio, which would provide investment returns that match the market performance and would result in very low investment management fees. DiNapoli has indicated that 75 percent of the equity portfolio is already indexed using in-house staff and Citizens Union’s analysis of the financial statements indicates that the overall fees are consistent with DiNapoli’s statement. Trichter also wants to eliminate private equity, hedge funds, and other alternative asset classes from the portfolio. Citizens Union understands that diversified portfolios hold some of these investments for risk management purposes, and DiNapoli has already started scaling back some of the hedge fund investments. While interested in some of Jonathan Trichter’s ideas for improving the OSC, Citizens Union believes that the incumbent has already demonstrated his ability to manage the office effectively.

 

Cruger Gallaudet – Libertarian
Candidate could not be reached for this evaluation.