ID Governor Opposes Pension Fund's Sudan Divestment

December 13, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - Idaho Governor C.L. Otter has come out against forcing the state's public employee pension fund to divest its holdings in Sudan-linked companies.

An Idaho Statesman news report said Otter articulated his position in a letter to University of Idaho sophomore Travis Thompson, president of the school’s Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, which is pushing for the state divestment.”While divestment in these companies might send a symbolic message, it will not have a direct effect on the situation in Darfur,” Otter wrote.

He noted that the pension plan offers a “Sudan Free fund … available for those employees who wish to exercise their own moral convictions.”

The Statesman said the $11.4-billion Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) has about $23 million invested in six companies that do business in Sudan – about 0.2% of the fund’s assets. PERSI covers about 115,000 public employees of 700 employers.

The PERSI  board announced in July that it is keeping its investments in the six Sudan-linked companies, saying it chooses investments based on financial success, not politics (See Idaho’s Pension System Refuses to Divest $23M in Sudan-Linked Cos. ).

Pension officials around the country have been trying to balance divestment pressures with their fiduciary responsibilities to participants (See Doing the Right Thing?  and Public Pension Fund Divestment: A Fiduciary Risk? ).