Ohio Pension Losses Pop Up in Governor’s Race

June 21, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – With Lehman Brothers-related losses at a state of Ohio pension fund a political issue in the governor’s race, a pension official insists politics played no part in the processing of calculating and distributing loss information.

The Associated Press reports that Ohio Public Employees Retirement System Chief Executive Chris DeRose asserted that e-mailed advice by a campaign operative for Republican candidate John Kasich to a pension executive was neither solicited nor followed. Kasich is running against Democratic Governor Ted Strickland.

“He’s free to write or respond with anything he wants,” DeRose said. “We, of course, ignored it and didn’t take his advice. We don’t need his advice. Many people on a regular basis are attempting to give us advice, and I think the record shows that no action was taken.”

DeRose said no one at any political campaign played a role in the loss calculation — $111 million — which he said is based on the fund’s own financial information. “We’re a nonpartisan, independent organization,” DeRose said. “We were just trying to put out the numbers.”

According to the news report, Democrats are seeking to use Kasich’s time as a managing director at Lehman Brothers against him in the campaign.

The May 3 e-mail from Kasich campaign spokesman Scott Milburn to pension fund executive Carol Nolan Drake contained options on how the fund could publicly explain its Lehman losses.Milburn said on Wednesday that he intended the message only to urge the pension fund to provide an accurate, thorough picture to reporters who were writing about the losses.

DeRose said the fund began working to calculate losses to its Lehman-managed investments in April.