"NC Pension Accused of Pay-to-Play Violations"

"An employee union filed a whistleblower complaint with the SEC regarding the pension system’s sole fiduciary: State Treasurer Janet Cowell.

The State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) has filed a complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), urging an investigation into possible pay-for-play violations by the state treasurer and the former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

According to the document, Bowles—co-founder and now-senior advisor to Charlotte-based private equity firm Carousel Capital—had hosted a fundraiser for Treasurer Janet Cowell at his home in June 2011. A few weeks later, SEANC said Carousel was selected to invest an “undisclosed portion” of the $230 million NC Innovation Fund, which was funded by the state’s retirement system.

“This is the type of abuse we were afraid we would find when we investigated the fees associated with our retirement system,” SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope said. “We won’t stand for our members’ retirement security and hard-earned money being used as a bargaining chip in a political game.”

Treasurer Cowell is the sole fiduciary of the state’s $90 billion retirement system.

...The SEC’s 2010 regulations against pay-to-play practices prohibit campaign contributions or other political contributions to influence awarding of contracts for managing government investments including public pension plan assets. It also bans investment advisers from managing these funds for two years after a contribution is made.

...SEANC said Bowles’ wife Crandall, who has been on the board of directors of JP Morgan since 2006, also hosted the fundraiser, adding to the “seemingly obvious breach” of the pay-to-play rule..."


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