The Buzz

POLITICS: Curtis Loftis questioned about iPad donation to Dorman High School (updated)

State Treasurer Curtis Loftis recently presented 15 iPads to Dorman High School -- complete with $30 iTunes gift cards -- and state investment commission chairman Reynolds Williams wants to know where he got them. (see update below)

The (Spartanburg) Herald Journal reported the iPads were donated "from an investment firm." Loftis is a voting member of the state Retirement System Investment Commission, which decides how to invest the state's $26.5 billion retirement fund. Williams asked Loftis to name the investment fund "in the name of full transparency."

Loftis said he would be "more than happy" to tell Williams everything, but added: "I'm not going to talk about it now. I don't have the files in front of me."

Loftis called Williams' request -- which was not on the commission's agenda -- "another little present" from Williams, adding that Williams would do anything to not talk about how the commission paid $419 million in management fees last year, the highest ever reported and significantly more than the national average.

UPDATE: Commission chairman Reynolds Williams emails to say: "I am concerned that a simple answer to a simple question triggers such evasion."

UPDATE AGAIN: Alex Stroman, the Treasurer's spokesman, said Loftis visited 15 schools in October and November and gave out 115 iPads, each with a case and an iTunes gift card. Columbia Management, an investment firm, paid for the iPads. Stroman says the firm "does zero business with the S.C. Retirement Investment Commission."

UPDATE PART III: Columbia Management does do business with S.C.'s 529 College Savings Plan, which Loftis oversees. Stroman says the iPads are part of marketing the plan, which the Treasurer is required to do under S.C. code 59-2-50(13).