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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

RPOF's new Scott ad smudges facts on Sink and state pension losses




The Republican Party of Florida is out with this rather misleading new ad, featuring the profiles of anxious seniors. The ad's narrator claims: "With Alex Sink in charge, Florida's pension fund has lost $24 billion. That’s not a typo. $24 billion gone. Experts even warned sink she was making risky investments…lost billions, then sink gave them bonuses. And now she wants a promotion?"

Update: The Republican Party says the reference is not to the $24 billion local government investment pool with hit the skids after a series of risky investments during the peak of the Wall Street bust, but to the $24 billion in losses of the Florida Retirement System pension account.  

The claim: "$24 billion, gone," is inaccurate. The pension dropped $24. 1 billion in between June 30, 2008 and June 30, 2009 as a result of the financial market meltdown, according to SBA data. On June 30, 2010, $8 billion in value had been recovered and the net loss in value was $16 billion. By Sept. 20, 2010 -- the day the ad first aired -- another $8 billion had been recovered, leaving the net loss to date: $8 billion. 

Sink was one of three members of the State Board of Administration which oversees the state's pension fund and the pension accounts of local governments. The others included Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum. The ad implies that it was her decisions that led to the drop in pension value but those decisions were made by money managers at the SBA.  Download Scott campaign background on Sink and pensions

Another misleading element: that bonuses were paid to employees based on the performance of the retirement funds. The SBA told the Herald/Times that the last time bonuses were paid was for the 2006-2007 fiscal year -- not the year in which the fund was hit by the meltdown losses. The payments were made after that fiscal year, however, because they were based on the record returns from 2006-07.

Sink's campaign shot back alleging that when Scott was head of Columbia/HCA, Florida's state pension fund lost "millions of dollars, and caused at least a dozen states' pension funds to sue him, newspaper reports at the time show.  Once the world discovered that Scott's mismanagement turned Columbia/HCA's stock into a toxic asset, the share price dropped by one-third, and even Columbia/HCA employees alleged that their pension fund was hurt."

Here's the background the Sink campaign provided.  Download Scott on pensions 


[Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 5:30pm]


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