On Monday, May 24, 2021, Attorneys Marc Dann and Andrew Engel of Advocate Attorneys LLP filed a mandamus action that asks the Ohio Supreme Court to compel officials of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS) and consulting firm CEM Benchmarking to comply with Ohio’s public records law and release financial information for the STRS pension fund, including returns achieved, expenses incurred by the funds, fees charged by outside fund managers, and comparisons of STRS’s performance with those of similar public pension funds in other states.
The documents in question were first requested by Edward “Ted” Siedle, President of Benchmark Financial Services, the firm retained by the Ohio Retired Teachers Association in October 2020 to perform a forensic investigation of STRS. Seidle’s request, submitted on February 19, 2021, sought all contracts between STRS and CEM Benchmarking, all reports and analysis produced by CEM Benchmarking related to STRS’s investment management fees, costs, and expenses, and all reports and analysis produced by CEM Benchmarking related to alternative investments.
More than two months later STRS turned over only heavily redacted copies of some the requested documents and failed to provide a copy of the system’s contract with CEM.
“STRS’s response is contrary to law, but it is not surprising,” Dann said. “The system and CEM are stonewalling and denying active and retired teachers as well as Ohio taxpayers vital information about the fund’s performance, the fees it pays advisors, and its overall management and operations. The public has a right to know what the fund and CEM are hiding and why.”
Attorney Dann, Engel, and Seidle discussed the lawsuit during a Zoom news conference at 2:00 P.M. on Monday, May 24. A recording of the event may be viewed at News Conference 5-24-21.
The mandamus action and supporting documents are available for viewing and download here: