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Darfur divestments bad, bailout divestments good, Hasan says

By Charles Ashby

Last week, the three GOP candidates for state treasurer came to town. Prior to that, I wrote a story about one of them -- Muhammad Ali Hasan -- criticizing the other two -- Walker Stapleton and J.J. Ament -- for not saying they would divest the state's funds in U.S. companies that accepted bailout funds regardless of whether they have since paid them back with interest.

A political insider (who asked to remain anonomous) then send me video of an interview Hasan had given to a conservative Web site called Face the State. In it, Hasan lambasts former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (who's now running for the U.S. Senate) and the Democrats for passing a new law in 2007 requiring the state (and not just the treasuer's office) to divest all funds in companies doing business in the Sudan. That divestment, which also impacted the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association, was designed to protest genocide in Darfur. (PERA on it's own a year later also said it would do the same for Iran.)

In questioning Hasan about why it's OK to divest in U.S. companies, but not those engaged in businesses in a country were genocide is occuring, he had this to say in an email response:

"I personally do not support geographic divestment against outside countries. Sanctions and economic divestment against countries ran by corrupt dictators often empower the dictator we are trying to weaken. The best defense against a corrupt dictator is a strong middle-class that has the money, power, and influence to demand honest governance. Sadly, sanctions reduce the amount of outside influence and international investment, thus consolidating most capital with a corrupt dictator. Such a situation took place in Iraq with Saddam Hussein, where international sanctions continually increased Hussein's power in Iraq. Our sanctions and divestment actions against Sudan are hurting the innocents of Sudan, much more than they are hurting President Omar Al-Bashir. I fully support the arrest and prosecution of Omar Al-Bashir, who should spend his life in jail due to human rights abuses. Lastly, I would never support divestment from Israel, as they are a great American ally.

"From there, I fully stand by my promise to divest from entities that have received or requested federal bailouts. As an investor, I am not convinced that these bailout entities, CitiGroup, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others, are in good financial position; thus, state funds invested with bailout entities run the risk of evaporating should our federal government decide not to continue their bailouts. For what it is worth, banks receiving TARP funds are currently getting even more cash from the Federal Reserve. More importantly, there is not a dearth of good investments - there are plenty of entities that offer great returns on our money, create jobs in Colorado, and do not rely on federal bailouts. I'm proud to carry this campaign point and I will continue to argue it against my opponents, both Republican and Democrat."

For the record, it should be noted that while Hasan blames Romanoff and the Democrats, that new law passed 65-0 in the House, and 34-1 in the Senate. Only Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, voted against it.

Also, the video has been removed from Face the State's Web site for unknown reasons. Regardless, here it is:

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