Treasurer Curtis Loftis censured by state's retirement commission

Published: Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:35 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:35 PM EDT
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Curtis Loftis
Curtis Loftis

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - State Treasurer Curtis Loftis faced a rebuke from the commission that oversees the state employees' retirement fund on Thursday as the governing body voted to censure him for engaging in what they called "false, deceitful, and misleading rhetoric."

In the resolution, the commission said Loftis "has chosen to publicly and vehemently criticize the Investment Commission" during his time as the state's top fiscal agent.

In his role as treasurer, Loftis has a seat on the commission.

The four-page censure details several articles in which Loftis discusses problems he perceives within the commission and the way it does business.

"It says they don't like me looking under the rocks," said Loftis. "I'm the first person ever that's come along to this commission--that has $27 billion of your money--and I ask questions. I've turned over rocks and I found things I shouldn't find and the men on that commission sit there like knots on logs while the overpaid staff leads them around like a bull."

Loftis took to his Twitter account shortly after the censure.

"My resolve to fight for transparency & accountability for SC pension fund has grown stronger today," said Loftis.

Loftis has complained for years he can't get investment information out of the commission to see how, and who's involved with investing the state's retirement dollars.

Last summer Loftis filed a criminal complaint against commission chairman Reynolds Williams with the Attorney General's office. Loftis said he found evidence that Williams' law firm got legal work on a $22 million investment contract with a firm called American Timberlands, LLC. The man behind that company is Williams' law firm partner Mark Buyck, III.

The firm pocketed nearly $100,000.

Williams declined an interview after the censure vote Thursday.

In July, Williams told WIS it was never a secret his firm had dealings with contracts his board would have to vote on. Williams said he told the board about some of his firm's involvement in the timber contracts and said he recused himself from the votes.

"I read the rules very carefully because I'm very conscious of my obligations," said Williams in July. "I read them, I believe I complied with them. I don't know what else you can do other than give full disclosure and recuse yourself and not participate in the process."

Loftis furthered his criticism of the commission in a news release just hours following the vote.

"Instead of spending public retiree resources on planning a public ambush, Chairman [Reynolds] Williams ought to be concerned about chronic underperformance, poor external audit reports and his criminal investigation," said Loftis.

"At the end of the day our fund makes too little money, pays too much in fees and has a portfolio that is too complex. I work for the people of SC and not for the elites on the Commission and I will never stop fighting for transparency and accountability. The people deserve to know how their money is being managed."

"When someone doesn't give me information, that's a red flag," said Loftis. "I'm the state treasurer of South Carolina. It's my job to look after the $27 billion and I cannot guarantee the existence, the evaluation or the safety of the funds in the retirement system."

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