Robert Grady Steps Down From New Jersey Pension Investment Board

Robert Grady

Robert Grady has resigned from his position as chairman of the New Jersey State Investment Council. He announced his decision during the council’s meeting on Wednesday.

The Council formulates investment polices that govern New Jersey’s Division of Investment, which manages the state’s pension assets.

The rest of the board members collectively commented on Grady’s tenure with the Council, according to ai-cio.com:

“The members of the council acknowledge and appreciate Chairman Grady’s unique blend of outstanding investment and communication skills, which will be deeply missed,” the resolution stated. “We are grateful for his leadership, will miss his warmth and wisdom and good humor, and thank him for his selfless and exemplary service.”

Grady’s tenure was marked by the outperformance of benchmarks – but also controversy. From Chief Investment Officer:

For the four years ending May 30, 2014, the fund has outperformed its policy benchmark by an annualized rate of 1%, generating an additional $3 billion in alpha. New Jersey’s pension returned 17% in the 2014 fiscal year—in line with the median large public plan, according to Wilshire Associates—while taking less risk than 85% of its peers.

[…]

Earlier this year, Grady was the target of criticism from a major New Jersey union, which accused the fund of pay-to-play violations during his and prior chairman’s tenures. The state ethics commission has taken no action on the union’s allegations, which it addressed to the department.

More on the controversy surrounding Grady, from the International Business Times:

In recent months, campaign finance documents revealed that under Grady’s leadership, the state has awarded lucrative pension management contracts to hedge fund, private equity, venture capital and other so-called “alternative investment” firms whose executives made campaign contributions to Christie’s campaign, his state party, the Christie-led Republican Governors Association and the Republican National Committee. The donations included a $10,000 contribution from Massachusetts Republican Gov.-elect Charlie Baker to the New Jersey Republican State Committee just months before Baker’s firm was given a New Jersey pension investment.

The donations were made despite New Jersey and federal rules aiming to restrict contributions to state officials like Christie who oversee pension investment decisions. Documents uncovered by International Business Times showed that Grady, a former Carlyle Group executive, was in regular communication with Christie’s campaign officials at the time the campaign was raising money and he was overseeing the state’s pension investments. Grady pushed New Jersey to move pension money into an investment in which his private financial firm was also investing, documents revealed. New Jersey also invested in Carlyle Group funds during Grady’s tenure, though he recused himself from final votes on those investments.

Grady has categorically denied the pay-to-play allegations, saying that his position doesn’t give him the power to give pension money to investment firms.

It’s likely that Grady will become a bigger part of Chris Christie’s potential campaign for the presidency.

 

Photo by Opine Needles Blog via Wikimedia Commons

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