COLUMBIA, SC — The Retirement System Investment Commission voted to censure state Treasurer Curtis Loftis on Thursday for “engaging in false, misleading and deceitful rhetoric.”
The censure resolution 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.
“This is not a personal attack on the treasurer, it is an attack on a method of communication,” Commissioner Travis Pritchett said just before the vote. “(Loftis’) press release and radio comments have been unnecessarily negative.”
Loftis said the censure was embarrassing -- both for himself and the commission -- but said 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.”
Loftis has criticized how the Investment Commission manages the retirement fund, saying it relies too much on “alternative investments” -- things other than stocks and bonds -- that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in annual management fees.
Other commissioners, lead by chairman Reynolds Williams, say the commission uses the fees to encourage investment managers to perform better. How much the state pays in managmeent fees depends on how much money the state’s investments make. The higher the returns, the higher the fees.
Just last week, Loftis blasted the commission for announcing returns of 12.39 percent in the calendar year of 2012 -- returns that are below other states with similar sized retirement funds. Loftis called the numbers “deceptive” and said the Investment Commission “lacks a moral core.”
And Loftis has butted heads with Reynolds Williams, the commission’s chairman and an appointee of Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman. 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 investigation, allegations Williams denied.
Loftis later accused Williams of using his position on the commission to steer lucrative contracts to his law firm. SLED is investigating, and that case is still pending.
Commissioner Edward Giobbe, an appointee of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, introduced the censure resolution. Five of the six commissioners voted to approve the censure. When Williams asked if anyone wanted to vote “no,” Loftis replied: “Why not.”
Below is the resolution approved by the commission
Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.