SC treasurer Loftis censured by commission

abeam@thestate.comMarch 1, 2013 

— The Retirement System Investment Commission voted Thursday to censure state Treasurer Curtis Loftis for “engaging in false, misleading and deceitful rhetoric.”

The censure resolution, which carries no penalties, quoted dozens of newspaper articles, blog posts, and radio and TV interviews, dating back to 2009, where Loftis publicly criticized the commission – of which Loftis is a member – for how it manages the state’s $26 billion retirement fund for public-sector workers.

“This is not a personal attack on the treasurer. It is an attack on a method of communication,” commissioner Travis Pritchett said before the vote. “(Loftis’) press release and radio comments have been unnecessarily negative.”

Loftis said the censure was embarrassing – for him and the commission – but added he viewed it as a “badge of honor,” telling commissioners, “What I say is truthful. It’s just you don’t like the way I say it.”

“There probably have been times when I said too much,” Loftis told the commission. “But I promise you this: I will not stop until these problems are fixed.”

Gov. Nikki Haley – who has feuded with fellow Lexington Republican Loftis in the past – “disagrees with the spirit” of the censure, according to her spokesman Rob Godfrey.

“It’s unproductive and unprofessional,” Godfrey said. “She is disappointed in the disrespect shown to the treasurer, with whom the governor will continue to work to deliver results for the people of the state.”

Loftis has criticized how the Investment Commission manages the retirement fund, saying it relies too much on “alternative investments” – investments other than stocks and bonds – that taxpayers have to pay managers to oversee.

Other commissioners, led by chairman Reynolds Williams, say the commission uses the fees to encourage investment managers to perform better. How much the state pays in management fees depends on how much money the state’s investments earn, they say. The higher the returns, the higher the fees.

Just last week, Loftis blasted the commission for announcing returns of 12.39 percent in the 2012 calendar year – returns below other states with similar sized retirement funds.

And Loftis has butted heads with Williams. Last year, the State Law Enforcement Division investigated Loftis for an alleged “pay-to-play” scandal, an investigation that resulted in no charges. Loftis blamed Williams for the probe, an allegation Williams denied.

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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