By Curtis Loftis, Treasurer of South Carolina
Ms. Margaret Brown’s trials are reminiscent of my own experience with a pension board that preferred to talk about transparency and fiduciary responsibility rather than practice it.
I was inaugurated in 2011 and found the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission (SCRISC) paying as much as $458 million in fees while disclosing approximately half of fees paid, entering into investment agreements that were not “for the benefit of the participants “and prohibiting fiduciaries from viewing information needed to fulfill their duties.
SCRIC was skillful at telling “part of their story” and anyone attempting to complete their version was not welcomed.
Over the next few years I was a sincere but vocal critic of their practices and for my trouble I was investigated three times by the legislature, reported to the SEC, hauled before the Supreme Court and publicly censured (without any prior notice) for my actions and beliefs.
Ms. Brown may find great personal satisfaction if she can continue her course. Five years after my odyssey began, the SCRISC is a different place, with different leadership and their enhanced performances and transparency demonstrates that the good fight is worth the effort. She will never be thanked for her efforts as the complexity of these issues does not lend itself to mass understanding and the influence of the pension plan will thwart most of the media attention. However, she will know of her service to the participants and the taxpayers.