In 2016, California taxpayers and state workers were major investors in the parent company of the National Enquirer, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
That year, California’s massive public pension fund, CalPERS, appeared to own as much as one-third of American Media Inc., according to public records reviewed by the paper. It is not clear whether CalPERS continues to hold a major stake in the company.
AMI and CalPERS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap. Megan White, a spokeswoman for the pension fund, told the Times in an email that “CalPERS does not align itself with American Media’s business actions,” adding that, the investments or ownership do not represent an endorsement of a particular company or product.
The investment coincided with the period when the tabloid and its parent company were openly allied to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. The National Enquirer published numerous articles trashing Trump’s opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. And as it acknowledged in December, AMI paid $150,000 to Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal in order to buy her silence about a relationship she says she had with Trump, a practice known as “catch and kill.”
The investment was handled by a New Jersey hedge fund, the Times said.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that AMI has been facing financial losses to the tune of $1 billion. And according to the LA Times, “it’s continued need for cash is exactly how CalPERS came to be invested in the National Enquirer’s parent company in the first place.”
The pension fund has been “winding down” its investments in hedge funds in recent years as part of a plan to cut costs and simplify investments, the Times said.
California’s pension fund is the largest in the nation. California taxpayers help fund CalPERS’s pensions, and nearly one in ten Californians is a member of a public pension program, according to the fund’s wesbite.