HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's state employee pension fund on Wednesday began a search to replace its chief investment officer, who recently announced his retirement after being the target of unspecified allegations.
The State Employees' Retirement Board also voted 7-4 against a proposal by state Treasurer Rob McCord to suspend investment decisions while it examines the facts surrounding the departure of investment manager Anthony S. Clark.
McCord said in a letter last week to chairman Nick Maiale that lawyers for Gov. Tom Corbett have mishandled an investigation into complaints against Clark and said Wednesday he also had general concerns about the governance at the $26 billion pension system.
McCord is running for governor and hopes to win the Democratic nomination to take on Corbett, a Republican who is seeking re-election. Corbett's general counsel's office has said it gets claims of misconduct on a regular basis and handles them seriously.
Maiale said during the meeting that he did not think, "whatever the allegations are," that they tainted the board's investment decisions.
"My primary responsibility is to the pension retirees and the taxpayers of Pennsylvania," he told reporters shortly before the board began to meet behind closed doors to discuss the Clark matter, including the possible hiring of an outside lawyer to provide advice.
Maiale said that as far as he knows, there is no investigation of the allegations against Clark by securities regulators or any other outside agency.
Also Wednesday, the board appointed one of its own, state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, to head up a committee to search for Clark's replacement.
Clark announced after being put on paid leave that he will retire at the end of this month. He has spent nearly three years at the $270,000-a-year job. Calls on Tuesday and Wednesday to a Virginia phone number listed in Clark's name have gone unanswered.
SERS has said that since Maiale learned of the allegations late last month, Clark has not been allowed to return to the office and has not had access to the agency's computers. The statement said SERS wants to address any allegation that has merit, but urged people not to draw conclusions before an independent investigation is complete.