Leila Walsh, director of communications for the foundation, when asked about the bid document, said: "The Laura and John Arnold Foundation is committed to ensuring that all public workers have a fair and secure retirement. Cities and states across the U.S. are facing a looming pension crisis that is threatening critical investments in education and public safety. People on both the left and right have recognized the urgent need for reform, and we are interested in working with all those who are pursuing reforms that are comprehensive, sustainable, and fair."
The request for proposals seeks a firm to launch a one-year publicity campaign beginning this month.
"We believe that all workers deserve to be part of a system that is fiscally sound, responsibly managed, and that ensures retirement benefits will be paid when due," said the document. "The purpose of this (request) is to solicit proposals from qualified public affairs and communications firms to support LJAF's pension system reform efforts."
According to the document, the campaign would involve market research, polling and focus groups to test views about public pensions, the development of a bipartisan coalition of groups and individuals seeking pension reform, and the execution of a multi-faceted national communications campaign. It gave no indication of how much money Arnold planned to spend on the campaign.
Arnold has become the dominant figure funding pension reform efforts in recent years, bankrolling ballot initiatives and groups in 25 jurisdictions that largely sought to cut pension benefits.
Arnold was a trader at Enron, the defunct energy company, before going on to make an estimated $3 billion running Centaurus, a Houston-based natural gas trading hedge fund. In 2012 he turned full-time to running the philanthropic foundation with his wife Laura. Its goals are to improve outcomes for criminal justice, education, public accountability and research integrity.
Arnold and his wife donated to President Obama's presidential campaigns, and have given significantly more to Democratic political groups than Republican.