State pension investments questioned

Lawmakers are demanding an explanation on potentially risky state pension investments, but the state's investment director is not offering any apologies.

The state has made what some critics are calling questionable moves with state pension accounts. First it invested $180 million of employee pension funds into Lehman Brothers just before the financial company's bankruptcy. Records now show the state investment council secretly invested in two hedge funds.

The hedge fund investments were less than $50 million, the limit for making investments public.

State investment director William Clark argues that his pension investments have beaten the national average. He also denies claims that the investments were dangerous moves and that money was put into struggling funds.

"Given the lack of staff, I think the numbers are extremely fantastic," he says. "If that's the definition, every investment other than U.S. Treasuries right now is struggling."

Clark has agreed to less secrecy within his division and will start publicizing all investments, including those below the $50 million limit.

"These are investment tools for the rich and famous, not for hard-working state employees who are retiring at an average salary of $35,000 a year," says Sen. Shirler Turner (D-15th District).

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