COLUMBIA -- The panel in charge of South Carolina's pension investments on Thursday rebuffed the state attorney general's bid to use law firms, including one in Mount Pleasant, to monitor for possible fraud.
Meanwhile, state Treasurer Curtis Loftis accused Attorney General Alan Wilson of getting the state involved with a New York law firm whose political contributions have raised allegations of pay-to-play in other states for legal work.
"Now, when the attorney general was appointing these folks, did he Google this firm from New York? Did he do any research?" Loftis asked one of Wilson's top deputies, John McIntosh, during a South Carolina Retirement Investment Commission meeting. The other firm would have been Mount Pleasant's Motley Rice.
McIntosh said he didn't know exactly what Wilson did.
The commission found itself in the middle of the squabble of two of the state's top Republican elected officials. With Loftis claiming power to decide if lawyers were hired for the commission and telling Wilson that he'd let him know if he needed to sign off on his choice. Wilson, on the other hand, said Loftis had previously agreed to hire lawyers and left the decision to him only to do an abrupt about face.
The commissioners wanted none of it and were clearly miffed.
Commission Chairman Allen Gillespie said his panel was never told that the plan was in the works and both elected officials are wrong. The agency already has its own fraud checking system and would decide if it's ever needed to hire outside lawyers for that type of work.
Longtime commission member Reynolds Williams said he had a casual conversation with Wilson about the idea. "But I was a little bit taken aback that the attorney general didn't consult with the commission and take our recommendation," Williams said.
Commissioner Edward Giobbe said Wilson's plans prompted worried calls about fraud at the agency. "When I first heard about this I had three calls from people I know in New York that said 'I understand your fund is being investigated for fraud, These were sophisticated financial people. It is simply a question of appearances,' " Giobbe said.