A proposed amendment Wednesday would have required Loftis to appoint someone else to the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission, rather than sit on it himself. However, senators shot down the amendment in a strong 34-10 vote.
“Having a statewide elected official on the Investment Commission ensures transparency and accountability,” Loftis said in a statement after the vote, “Our analysis of the fund has relied on solid numbers and information from leading independent firms using recognized fiscal year returns instead of cherry picking stats for political convenience.”
In defending the amendment, Sen. Greg Ryberg (R-Aiken) says the panel handles complicated investments and Loftis is the only member not required to have a background in finance.
“I don’t think being elected makes you qualified to make extremely complex investment decisions,” Ryberg said. He also accused Loftis of “politicizing” the investment commission.
However, Loftis claims he is being targeted because he criticized risky investments being made with pension money. He found an ally in Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter):
“What we have done is make a statement that if you ask questions, you will be personally assailed and you will have your access to information… cut off,” Leventis said from the Senate well.
Sen. Jake Knotts (R-Lexington) said he wanted an elected official on the commission (the remaining five are appointed) and the proposal would be “taking the watchdog” off the commission. Sen. Mike Rose (R-Summerville) responded, “It looks like they’re taking him off because the watchdog’s barking too much.”
However, Ryberg said Loftis’s complaints have often been inconsistent and without merit. He accused Loftis of raising the issues to deflect attention from an ongoing SLED investigation into an associate of Loftis’s.