FUMO SEEKS TO INTERVENE IN PENSION AUDIT CASE
HARRISBURG, March 5, 2003 Ė State Senator Vincent Fumo (D-Philadelphia) has petitioned Commonwealth Court for permission to join Auditor General Robert P. Casey Jr.ís lawsuit against the boards of the stateís two largest public pension systems.
Casey sued the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) on January 23, requesting that their boards be forced to comply with his request for documents, and requesting that he be allowed to do performance audits of their investment operations.
Fumo is acting in his official capacities as a state senator and as a member of the PSERS board, one who opposed the fundís decision not to cooperate with the auditor generalís requests. Fumo also dissented when the board voted to retain its own outside consultant.
"I think in light of the pension fundsí losses of more than five percent last year, they should welcome the auditor generalís review. An independent audit would bolster public confidence," he said. "I donít see what the pension boards have to fear. Auditor General Caseyís review and recommendations canít hurt; they can only help."
In his filing, Fumo pointed out to the court that the pension funds do not represent his viewpoint on a number of matters. He disagrees with the boardís decision to contest Caseyís authority to perform audits. He also disagrees with the board hiring its own consultant to conduct an audit in competition with the one being pursued by Casey.
Fumo also has a direct interest as a senator and chairman of the Democratic Appropriations Committee to see that the mandates of the legislature are followed regarding money appropriated to the funds, and regarding the duty of the auditor general to conduct audits.
His petition to the court stated: "If not permitted to intervene in this matter and participate in proceedings, this court will not be able to receive the unique perspective from a dissenting member of the PSERS Board and a member of the General Assembly who has debated and considered legislative initiatives involving both the auditor generalís functions and authority, and the annual appropriation authorization to both public pension boards. As such, Senator Fumoís intervention in this matter is in the public interest."
Fumo filed the petition to intervene yesterday (March 4) in Harrisburg.
"Iím concerned, both as a Senator and as a member of the PSERS board, about the publicís faith in the pension funds." Fumo said. "I think the boardís position casts doubt on its motives and unnecessarily compromises confidence in its decision making."
Fumo has been a voting member of the PSERS board since 1991. His current term expires November 30, 2003.