By now, several hundred of you have read my open letter to Dan Houston, President and CEO of The Principal Financial Group of Companies. Most of you probably think I am nuts, and that this effort will get me no-where except a subpoena and complaint from Houston’s plaintiff attorney. If that is the case, so be it. I suspect he can find me.
I am not a great journalist, but this is NOT my first rodeo. I have been “forcing” ethical conduct from large corporations for almost 20 years, but I doubt you will find my accomplishments on the internet. When the corporations I challenged fulfilled their responsibilities, my goals were met, and those company misdeeds were expunged from further public scrutiny, as they should have been. For Principal, the story will be the same.
I don’t destroy corporations, but I come from a family of a former lobbyist and corporate executive… I am familiar with the “system.” This has been a rodeo with Principal, starting out with calf roping and barrel racing; it then grew into team roping and bronc riding… and now we are on the bulls. So far, the rodeo has been benign… Principal has not been negatively impacted, reputation wise, by my blog posts. If I continue, I will soon become a reputational risk, and Principal will need to report my activities to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which can raise a few red flags, perhaps even an investigation.
Dan Houston knows he has to move on this matter, sooner or later. His attorneys may recommend legal action, which would result in more negative press, and more reporting requirements. Legally, I am doing nothing wrong…the law and constitution are on my side. But Ignoring me is not an answer either. I am 74, pretty healthy, and even if an event stopped me from publishing, I have stockpiled over 200 blog posts that would continue to be published, exposing Principal to an even greater reputational risk.
My letter is to the point. Principal HAS stolen funds from retirement accounts. My focus has been the Principal U.S. Property Separate Account (PUSPSA), but there are 30 other separate accounts, and each may have a story to tell. Houston needs to apologize for Principal’s past sins. He doesn’t have to name wrong-doers, but an apology is in order. Houston also needs to write a check to PUSPSA investors that were harmed by investing in the separate account.
I do not believe the Department of Justice has ever addressed Principal’s fraudulent abuses. The SEC or the Department of Labor would have had to first investigate and report the abuse, and while the SEC may have had a conversation with a few corporate executives in February, 2010, no other action was taken. Zimpleman’s son Thomas was also working for A.G Holder, and any publicity would have embarrassed both Holder and Hillary Clinton.
I suspect the Department of Justice may want to visit with Houston if he publicly apologizes, which may result in a Non-Prosecution Agreement, and a fine. Neither Houston nor Zimpleman would go to jail, past board members would not be embarrassed, and Principal can once again rebuild their reputation, without the fraudulent element. I am sure Mr. Houston will consider this option seriously. It will save time and expense as well, since Principal is paying all legal fees starting today.
My future posts will soon enter the “bull riding” stage in this rodeo. Investigative journalism takes on many forms… the “timid” reporter is often too cautious. The more aggressive reporter steps out of his shell (or cage, as I call it) and displays his own aggression towards his non-ethical opponents, often out of frustration. Many readers might consider me to be on the edge… pushing too hard to prove a point. I guess that could be a result of my youth. My “heroes” were Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Superman, and the Rifleman… all American heroes. Today, we need more heroes… seriously. The heroes all took chances to make sure the bad guys got caught. Of course, they would always win their battles, a non-reality in today’s world.
Principal has a history of fraud and corruption that needs to be erased. If CEO Dan Houston doesn’t “clean the swamp” within Principal’s systemically corrupt environment, and protect his company and employees from even more scrutiny by the feds, he will have failed himself and over 14,000 employees. Former Principal Director Mark Hanrahan was just the tip of the iceberg.