Fmr SEC official says Fortune mag reporter tried to privately bully him out of criticizing Wall Street

By David Sirota , written on May 7, 2014

From The News Desk

Over the course of Pando's reporting into the relationship between Wall Street and public money, we have faced legal threats and efforts to sabotage our work. As Pando editor Paul Carr recently noted, one of the most surprising attempted saboteurs has been Fortune magazine's Dan Primack.

It seems like we weren't the only ones to hear from Primack.

Today, a former Securities and Exchange Commission investigator has come forward to say that Primack also tried to intimidate him into not writing critically about Wall Street.

In a scathing article for Forbes, Edward Siedle (who has been one of many sources for Pando's coverage of Wall Street) writes that Primack "call(ed) me last year—during my investigation into the Rhode Island pension fund—and spend an hour trying to bully me into accepting his ill-logic that hedge funds are far safer than I know them to be." 

Citing Pando's investigative reporting into the industry, Siedle goes on to note:

Bad enough Primack rallied to the defense of The Carlyle Group and assured investors he could “say with confidence” certain Carlyle private equity fund secretive offering documents were free from potential fiduciary breaches reported upon by Dave Sirota at Pando Daily.

Like Johnny Carson’s recurring comedic character, Carnac the Magnificent, Primack claimed to know what was written on a piece of paper in a sealed envelope without opening it.

Only it’s no joke when a paycheck reporter who’s never seen the inside of a private equity deal tells investors to ignore credible warnings of pervasive private equity industry wrongdoing he knows little about. In recent days, Primack has taken to publicly arguing that basic financial information about public pension investments should be kept secret from the public, even though it is public money that is being invested (see the section of his article entitled "Types of information that should not be publicly disclosed").

This position is, to put it mildly, ironic coming from someone who bills himself as a journalist - aka a person ostensibly employed to make information public. But, then, perhaps Primack is one of the four in ten journalists who, according to a new poll, now say journalists shouldn't "use confidential business or government documents without authorization" from businesses or governments.

The problem with such a pro-secrecy position, of course, isn't just its terrible implications for journalism. There's also the problem of how keeping public pension investments secret imperils investors, taxpayers and retirees. As Siedle notes on Forbes:

Below are some assumptions I believe investors can safely make:

First, don’t ever assume you know what a high-risk, high-cost Wall Street confidential alternative investment offering document says without reading it.

Second, always assume that any document written by Wall Street, favors Wall Street.

Third, assume that financial reporters may not get it right. Be aware that only a handful of reporters regularly cover complex investment matters and are capable of understanding such schemes...

Fourth, you should assume that there is far more wrongdoing in the investment world than ever gets reported in the mainstream media. The financial press relies upon advertising dollars and is consequentially somewhat pro-industry. While mainstream media regularly kills stories regarding investment scamming, start-up media and bloggers are playing an increasingly significant role in exposing wrongdoing. Worst of all are industry trade publications. The need for transparency is one of the big reasons why reporters need to continue investigating into public pensions and Wall Street. The axiom at work is simple: The more information that's made public about public investments, the more the public can see whether those investments are prudent, or whether they are schemes designed to rip off taxpayers and retirees. Wall Street cheerleaders like Primack can keep sniping and meddling to try to squelch  journalism, but the truth must come out.

Update: Primack has commented on Twitter on the allegations, acknowledging to Pando's Paul Carr that the call took place and accusing Siedle of "yelling a lot." Primack also said that the call was "not really about hedge."

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In a subsequent email to Pando, Primack added "I confirmed there was a call, not what was said/discussed. I dispute Ted's characterization and memory."

[Photo credit: Fortune (Creative Commons) ]