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Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

State Investment Firm Using Smoke, Mirrors

From the St. Pete Times:

Front and center on its Web site, the agency that invests $118 billion for Floridians showcases its code of ethics: “It’s all about … Trust — Performance — Integrity.”

Most people take that as an article of faith, that the state is investing money for retirees and others wisely. But when the agency has fielded inquiries, it has often been about obfuscation, omission and falsehood.

When a community college employee asked if his pension money was in risky securities sliding on Wall Street, the answer he got was misleading and false.

When a city official with $26 million invested with the state asked if the money was safe, the people who run the state fund brushed him off.

When another city official asked if a $425 million investment was safe, the agency gave an answer the city considered so misleading that it asked the FBI to investigate.

When the agency’s employees privately fretted about losses and shaky investments, their bosses told retirees and state and local officials that everything was fine. They even misled the three people charged with oversight of the agency: the governor, the chief financial officer and the attorney general.

This picture emerges from a St. Petersburg Times review of thousands of e-mails and confidential memos, financial records, transcripts and other reports issued from late 2006 to 2009.

The documents reveal an agency, the State Board of Administration, that often clouds its public statements in complicated language and corporate speak that obscure the truth.

The full story here.

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Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics

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