Back in 2012, this website wrote extensively on the American Timberlands scandal at the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission (SCRSIC) – a deal that’s emblematic of this underperforming agency’s over-reliance on questionable “alternative investments.”

This $30 million deal was rammed through the commission by its corrupt chairman, Reynolds Williams.  And in typical South Carolina fashion, Williams’ law firm took a nice six-figure cut.

Crazy, huh?   Despite this shameless self-serving, Williams continues to be allowed to manage this $25 billion fund – which (thanks to its shady investments) consistently ranks among the worst public pension funds in America.

S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis has been trying to change the culture of corruption at the SCRSIC for the better part of the last four years – arguing that its high fees (the highest fees in the nation, actually), low returns and rampant cronyism are imposing undue burdens on South Carolina retirees and taxpayers.

Exorbitant pay raises and bonuses to commission bureaucrats have also raised questions …

But the most troubling part of the story is the extent to which those entrusted with the best interests of the state’s citizens are instead looking out for their own interests.

Take former SCRSIC Harris Chewning – who left the commission in August 2013 just a month-and-a-half away from a $50,000 bonus.

Should we pat Chewning on the back for this?

No.  Not even a little bit.

During his “public service,” Chewning was responsible for managing the American Timberlands account – which he successfully steered through an unprecedented four rejections by the SCRSIC’s internal investment panel.

“Normally, an investment with a record like that would be shredded and never brought up again, and certainly not approved by the Commission!” one source familiar with the process tells FITS.

But Williams wanted the cozy deal done – for obvious reasons.  And Chewning helped him push it through despite the objections of those tasked with vetting these deals.

So … anybody care to guess what Chewning is doing now?

Yeah … here’s a screen capture from the “Our People” page of American Timberlands website …

american timberlands

How convenient, right?

Chewning is the company’s “director of capital markets,” according to the website – a position we’re guessing compensates him above and beyond the $50,000 bonus he left on the table at SCRSIC.

Amazing, isn’t it?  This guy helps shove through one of the most corrupt deals in the history of this corrupt agency – and all of a sudden he’s on the payroll of the company that profited from it?

“Financial professionals around the country notice this sort of thing and it taints us all,” a source close to the commission tells FITS.

Indeed …