by Sam Hieb
Look who makes an appearance Dan Way’s CJ cover story on possible legal problems involving North Carolina’s state employee pension plan:
Siedle conducted a preliminary forensics study on the North Carolina Teachers and State Employees Retirement System, which has 900,000 members, in 2014 for the State Employees Association of North Carolina. State Treasurer Janet Cowell is the sole fiduciary for the state’s pension plans, which now have $89.8 billion in assets, the 10th-largest public pension system in the nation.
That analysis formed part of the basis for SEANC’s whistleblower complaint alleging possible pay-to-play rules violations by Cowell, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, founder of a firm that secretively manages some state pension fund investments, and his wife, JPMorgan Chase Board of Directors member Crandall Bowles, who held political fundraisers for Cowell.
At the time Erskine Bowles said he had no active management role in the investment firm, and believed state pension fund investments should be public records.
I certainly remembered Bowles’ run for the Senate in 2004, but it had skipped my mind that Bowles also ran in 2002, losing to Elizabeth Dole. Of course Cowell is leaving office, and incoming State Treasurer Dale Folwell–in addition to probing the State Health Plan’s coverage for sex-change operations (if deemed medically necessary) “promised on the campaign trail that on assuming office he immediately would meet with investment managers to determine where pension fund money is invested, who manages it, the amount of fees paid, and performance records.