SC

Red Bluff Latest Example Of SC Pension Fund Corruption

For those of you lacking the means to see it with your own eyes, that there’s Red Bluff Plantation – a sprawling, luxurious South Carolina vacation destination eager to open its historic gates to anyone wanting to “embrace the majestic spirit of the Low Country.” Anyone with plenty of (other…

For those of you lacking the means to see it with your own eyes, that there’s Red Bluff Plantation – a sprawling, luxurious South Carolina vacation destination eager to open its historic gates to anyone wanting to “embrace the majestic spirit of the Low Country.”

Anyone with plenty of (other people’s) money that is …

From the plantation’s official website …

Only eleven miles from historic Savannah, Georgia and situated along breathtaking New River, Red Bluff Plantation’s private grounds provide the ultimate escape for nature enthusiasts, corporate clients, organizations, and families. Red Bluff is the perfect venue to host your wedding. The plantation’s 6,400 acres of river frontage provides unparalleled views of the Low Country’s salt marsh and surrounding barrier islands. The estate consists of nearly 2,000 acres of high ground and 4,400 acres of marsh and wetlands, home to deer, turkey, dove, quail and duck making it the ultimate hunting destination. The plantation’s private boat landing and dock provide access to the pristine New River, the Intracoastal waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. The main house is a 7,200 sf exquisite reproduction of a typical 19th century plantation house custom built by master craftsmen in 1981. The barn and pastures can accommodate quests and their leisurely pursuits.

Why are we commending this swanky location to your attention? Well, as it turns out Red Bluff is one of several plantations recently purchased with money from the notoriously corrupt S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission (SCRSIC).

Not only that, we’re told the Florence, S.C. law firm of corrupt SCRSIC Chairman Reynolds Williams did approximately $120,000 of legal and title insurance work on this property – despite clear legal and ethical prohibitions against fund trustees participating in such activity. As FITS readers no doubt recall, Williams is already under investigation by both the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) for a slew of other alleged self-serving deals. In fact he would have been booted as chairman of this fund had he not cast the deciding vote to save his own skin last year.

What a guy, right?

Red Bluff, purchased by the pension fund in November of 2011 for roughly $10 million, is once again up for sale. Will taxpayers make money off the deal? We doubt it. In fact this looks to us like another example of the SCRSIC’s reckless foray into land speculation rather than putting retirement assets into safer long-term investments.

This short-sightedness – along with routinely exploited retirement loopholes – continues to drain South Carolina taxpayers. For fiscal year 2012 the fund returned 0.37 percent – placing it in the bottom fifth of pension plans across the country. It also paid $364 million in fees to produce a profit of only $125 million.

Of course these dismal statistics haven’t stopped the ethically challenged Williams from living high on the hog … with our money.

In fact he and certain other “high and mighty” South Carolinians have reportedly enjoyed some raucous nights at Red Bluff Plantation – expensed to the state retirement fund, naturally.

Ah, South Carolina … it’s a great day for corruption (again).

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42 comments

dwb619 January 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Sounds like the abuses committed at the Webb Wildlife Center years go.
That sweet little PRIVATE hunt club, paid for by taxpayers, was outed by the State newspaper, if I remember correctly.

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jeffy01 January 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I smell FBI…..

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lowcountry breeze January 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I smell Curtis Loftis pushing stories again…

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SusieQ1 January 13, 2013 at 8:58 am

Is there no way to stop the thieving bastards? Who needs 120,000 of legal fees to buy a piece of land. What was the reasoning behind this purchase?
These are questions I’d like Curtis Loftis to find out the answers to. Hang the Bastards that did this, and hang ’em in this swamp they purchased.

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jimlewis,owb January 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Sell. No way in hell, I say.

Keep the damn Plantation.

Have Boeing manufacture skeet machines capable zinging human sized clay pigeons out over the marsh. Boeing should welcome the business since they can’t make fucking airplanes that can leave the tarmac.

Set up a lottery and every week 10 retirees’ names will be drawn for a weekend of fun and sun down at Red Bluff.

The main event will be on Saturday afternoon when 10 pre-selected Legislators, Lawyers, Lobbyist, School Board Members, Elected/Appointed Cockroaches will be seated one by one in the pigeon machine.

Upon command of the retiree on deck, the Cockroach Human Pigeon will be hurled out over the marsh.

The Retiree on deck will have one shot to pop a cap on the Cockroach Pigeon. If they fail to clip the son of a bitch, the remaining retirees will then be allowed to see if they can cap the bastard from the bank. No limit on number of bank shots.

I am sure if West Virginia can land a reality series titled Buckwild, South Carolina should be able to sell Pop a Cap on Their Flying Ass with all funds earned going into the Pension Fund.

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shifty henry January 11, 2013 at 2:29 pm

HEH! HEH! HEH! — very good

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Phonebooth Bob January 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm

jimlewis,owb:
You have cracked me up many times on this website. This was your best so far.

“human sized clay pigeons” in a launcher made by Boeing.

Damn, that’s funny!

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Old Bike Dude January 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Hell there’s two dozen more just like it within a 20 mile radius. Don’t scratch too deep here sic. You never know when the name of a taxpayer hero might turn up in the documents.

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Howie Koch for president January 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Its not the “taxpayers money”.

It belongs 100% to the retirees.

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Nancy January 11, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Where exactly do these “retirees” get a lifetime of benefits? On the back of taxpayers. Government generates no revenue of it’s own, so every Government job is paid for by the taxpayer. These pension benefits? Do you recall last year they squealed that they raised them something like $7-8 per month? I only wish in the private sector we were privy to that kind of benefits and low costs. Yes, it is taxpayer dollars, otherwise, how does the Government even hire these individuals? How do they generate revenues to hire these people? Who do you think pays for their salary and benefits? Genuine questions – I cannot fathom an answer to the contrary, however, open to any input.

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Trevor Bauknight January 11, 2013 at 5:15 pm

What do you mean “Government generates no revenue of its own?”

That’s ridiculous. A variety of government entities generate quite a lot of revenue in this state through a variety of fees, admission charges, licenses and events.

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Bonhoeffer January 11, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Nancy, Of course government generates “revenue.” It’s called taxes. You know, like in “Internal Revenue Service.” And why does government need to generate this revenue. So American citizens can hope to live free from fear, poverty, bodily harm, disease, religious oppression, and yes, ignorance. Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.

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Nancy January 12, 2013 at 11:34 am

@bonhoeffer and Trevor – apparently you didn’t read the comment that I was responding to by Howie “Its not the “taxpayers money”

@ Trevor: These government entities you speak of – how were they built? Who funded them? The taxpayers fund them, look at the budgets, you will see money allocated to build xyz, that enables them to charge admission fees, but without tax dollars, the government could not charge admission/event fees because nothing would be built to charge fees (which IMO is just another form of taxes). Unless you are referring to some political event, where do they get the money to hire state employees that allow them to charge “fees” – the taxpayers.

@Bonhoeffer, yes that is how the government generates money – taxes – therefore it IS taxpayers money. Thanks for helping me prove my original point. The government generates no money of it’s own except what it takes from The People.

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MountainPenelope January 12, 2013 at 8:10 pm

I am so tired of this S.C. retirees are ripping off the taxpayers crap!

Yes, the “taxpayer,” which includes each and every S.C. retiree (we were not exempt from paying taxes while working for various county and state agencies) has generously funded outrageous retirement incomes for ALL county, state, and special purpose districts that are a part of the system. It wasn’t the 6+ per cent off the top of OUR paychecks that had anything to do our retirement income. That’s 6+ per cent over and above Social Security.

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Smurk January 14, 2013 at 8:56 am

Taxpayers my ass. I paid out of my paycheck for my retirement and worked below market rate for years to get my retirement. I also bought for $52,000 cash fucking money the time I needed to get out of that rat race early so don’t tell me it’s taxpayer money asshole!

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Nancy January 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm

“Why the one month “retirement?” Both employees are taking advantage of a state law enabling them to “double-dip” on taxpayers by drawing state retirement benefits as well as salary from local government. As a result of this “double dipping,” Orangeburg city administrator John Yow will continue to receive his $169,000 a year salary along with an annual retirement benefit of at least $64,800.
That’s $233,800 a year, people – not counting health care coverage and other benefits.”

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MountainPenelope January 12, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Nancy, you need to complete the “not counting health care coverage and other benefits” sentence. It should read, “the health care coverage THAT HE PAYS FOR.”

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Senator Foghorn Leghorn January 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Maybe now state retirees can go down there to drink liquor and kill defenseless animals and eat bar-b-que and screw hookers, like the Legislators and Fat Cats do.

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junior justice January 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

One word: self-interest.

Sounds like: slurp-slurp, oink-oink, burp-burp

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Old Bike Dude January 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm

No that would be Palmetto Bluff or Brays Island. If you just want hookers with an ocean view then any carpetbagger plantation on Hilton Head will suffice.

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norman January 11, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Not all retirement funds are operated by dumb shits. Look at the AL fund it owns local WIS-TV and other stations, Robert Trent Jones golfing, resorts and hotels.

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Tom January 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm

How is this different from the mess at SC State?

Because the Feds are looking at this, not the State Attorney General Alan Wilson. Feds indict, the state looks.

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Blind Squirrel Looking for Inter-nut January 11, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Any idea how the Red Bluff property value appreciated by about ONE THOUSAND PERCENT (1000% or 10X) from a 2005 sale price of $1,100,000 ($1.1M) to a 2011 sale price of $10,000,000 ($10M) (if the source below is correct)?

Not bad for a depressed real estate market.

Is this typical of how they invest pension money????

545 GLASGOW LANDING RD HARDEEVILLE, SC 29927
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/545-Glasgow-Landing-Rd-Columbia-SC/111840268_zpid/
Zestimate: $9,227,435
Last Sold:Nov 2005 for $1,100,000

Interesting 10 year property value estimate curve

REMAX Listing of Sold Homes (nice ales commission)
http://www.remax.com/realestatehomesforsale/hardeeville-sc-glasgowlandingrd-properties-p001.html?query=lasttranprice-dorder/tab-recent
Sold 12/27/2011 $10,000,000

(If this info is incorrect, please indicate so.)

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Realtor January 13, 2013 at 8:20 am

Your info is correct. This property appears to have been purchased on speculation with the goal to sell quickly as a high end working plantation. It is possible to make money like this but it is far from the type of asset that one would expect a public pension to own.

Land speculating is a risky business made even more so when using others peoples money. As I understand this investment the principles have an opportunity to become independently wealthy and the retirees have the opportunity to make a comparatively small amount of money. The parties interest are “not in alignment” and therefore this is an investment the fund should have declined.

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Trash Bug April 12, 2013 at 6:04 am

Yes. That is incorrect. You’re talking about an entirely different piece of land. Entirely.

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Trash Bug April 12, 2013 at 6:04 am

Yes. That is incorrect. You’re talking about an entirely different piece of land. Entirely.

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ConfederateLiberal January 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm

The South Carolina Retirement Systems Investment Commission estimated an annual return of just over 11.5% on its investments of the Pension Fund during 2012. The preliminary returns include estimates for December, but Chief Investment Officer Hershel Harper noted that, “our estimates have proven reliable, and I expect minimal deviation in the final numbers.” The noteworthy earnings added approximately $2.8 billion to the Fund during the past year. The Commission has generated an estimated 8.1% annualized return over the previous three-year period to date. The three-year return has added approximately $5.8 billion to the Fund while surpassing the assumed rate of return that has moved from 8% to 7.5% during the period.

Could it be that Fits doesn’t have the latest information? This is an excerpt from an Investment Commission press release that just came out.

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DEHC 30 years January 11, 2013 at 8:55 pm

According to the Treasurer’s office this 11.3 % places the fund in the bottom 25% of the peer group as far as performance.

That is an F in anyone’s book. That is right, this bunch brags about performing in the bottom 25%

The fund needs to make money not make crap up.

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Sarge January 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm

You are wasting ink – or whatever it is on the internet – writing about Reynolds Williams. He is one of Jean Toal’s protected ones – like Steve Morrison, NM. What’s in Toal’s best interest? That all that matters. Williams’ law firm has been very very friendsly with Toal in the past. There will not even be a private reprimand given to Williams.

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Wilson January 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Of course Alan Wilson will do nothing but don’t be surprised if the FEDS pick up where he failed to act. The State could have acted at SC State but did not. Republicans simply will not prosecute their own.

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JP January 11, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I worked on Wall Street 20 years and i can’t figure out what this Investment Commission is doing. Each time I look into it I just come away scratching my head. They consistently under perform. It just does not make sense.

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Intern January 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I interned there some time back when I was at USC and enjoyed myself. Then I went out of state and worked at a REAL investment company and found out those SC Investment Commission guys were full of it. They are laughed at by everyone on the in the industry. They are seen as pretenders.

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ConfederateLiberal January 11, 2013 at 10:35 pm

DHEC,
First, it would seem to most people that earning 11+% on investments would be a good thing but the comment about peer comparisons is legitimate if we could agree on what that peer group that might be? Is the portfolio mix similar enough to draw comparisons or is the Treasurer’s office mixing apples and oranges again. BTW, has the Treasurer released something to the press today or do you have inside information. One last thing, how are the investments the Treasurer is responsible for doing and how do they compare. Can you enlighten us?

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John January 12, 2013 at 6:46 am

Sing it Fits. Tell the world about this sham and all the others. Bust State Government wide open. Shut their money off. Turn of the easy access to power to those that use it for their own selfish benefit.

If you don’t do it who else will?

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Scooter January 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Those involved at SC State are not Republicans. I bet that there are a few in Columbia who will be feeling the heat from that .

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ceilidh10 January 14, 2013 at 9:31 am

My grandfather was forced to sell a plantation in the lower part of the state ( which we defined as proprty with more than 500 acres ) after WW II because he and his children could not afford it. My late uncle, who was a Bonham, said it was the best thing the family ever did. Thank God we had rich Yankees at that time to turn to, people who wanted a piece of of the South for their hunting, fishing, and private affairs. Owning a big piece of property can be a potential liability but there is so much more upside. I am grateful for the Retirement Commission’s decision. Doesn’t everyone agree that our state is a great investment vehicle? They ain’t growing any more dirt, or land, last time I checked. Look at the family on Downton Abbey and the struggles of the landed gentry. Plantations employ people, pay taxes on what they produce, provide timber, take in guests and visitors for a fee–look at Magnolia–and are essential to the local economy. Some plantations finmd a niche market for organic produce. Planatation families host events such as steeplechasing, and show off horses, stock, and good dogs. Folks can witness arts and crafts demonstrations. How else might people without cars or education find work except at their local plantation? Lawyers and doctors find they can do business with a plantation as well. Done correctly, plantations are the way to go. What’s not to like?

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shifty henry January 18, 2013 at 8:10 am

….. good thoughts

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Bill January 14, 2013 at 11:22 am

As a public service employee I would like my investments to make money. Feeling good is nice. Making money is what is important to this process.

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shifty henry January 18, 2013 at 8:10 am

….. also a good thought

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Trash Bug April 12, 2013 at 6:06 am

This is full of untruths. No Commissioner has ever been to Red Bluff. None. Ever. Is Loftis pushing lies again ?

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Trash Bug April 12, 2013 at 6:06 am

This is full of untruths. No Commissioner has ever been to Red Bluff. None. Ever. Is Loftis pushing lies again ?

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Philip Branton October 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Hmm………who got the 1 Million dollars to begin with..?

What was the property really worth if it was divided up and sold….?

Where did the owners who were paid the 1 million put certain campaign donations…?

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