By MARC LEVY, Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania state senator is suing Pennsylvania’s largest public pension system amid a federal investigation into aspects of the agency’s undertakings, saying agency officials have refused to share documents with her, even though she is a board member.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday evening by Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, in Commonwealth Court against the $64 billion Public School Employees’ Retirement System.
“To fulfill her duties, and particularly in light of the allegations of wrongdoing that preceded her appointment to the board, Senator Muth has sought access to documents related to the investment operations and contracts of the board,” Muth’s lawsuit said.
The Associated Press has previously reported that subpoenas from federal investigators center on the pension system’s purchases of parcels of land in downtown Harrisburg and its calculations about the fund’s investment performance that help determine the balance of payments into the system by taxpayers and school employees.
On May 7, Muth requested documents revolving around some $12 million that system officials had requested to purchase, excavate and prepare the Harrisburg properties, the lawsuit said.
A system lawyer refused, citing “ongoing internal and criminal investigations,” the lawsuit said.
A system spokesperson released a statement calling the lawsuit “meritless.”
“This lawsuit diverts valuable time, energy, and resources from what we believe is in the best interests of the beneficiaries, which should be the primary directive as we respond to the investigations,” the system said in the statement.
System officials in April confirmed that the agency had been served with a grand jury subpoena for documents by the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania’s state treasurer, Stacy Garrity, has also said federal subpoenas were served on several PSERS management officials.
The PSERS board in April voted to raise contribution rates for tens of thousands of public school employees, fallout from what system officials have called a mistake in calculating the fund’s long-term investment performance.
The investment performance calculation is the subject of at least one of the federal subpoenas and an internal investigation.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia has declined comment.
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