Former state pension board chair says he was not pressured to step down

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HARRISBURG — The former leader of the state pension board says he was not pressured to resign, but he chose to step down after 22 years for several reasons, among them accusations of improper behavior against the former chief investment officer.

Nicholas Maiale, former chairman of the board of the State Employees’ Retirement System, attended his last board meeting Wednesday.

The board has been under increased scrutiny as of late due to accusations by a SERS employee against Anthony Clark, the former chief investment officer of the $26 billion pension fund. Mr. Clark has not been charged with any crime and, through an attorney, he has denied any wrongdoing. He retired in December.

Board members decided Wednesday to hire the Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel law firm to conduct an independent investigation into how to proceed with regard to the allegations.

Mr. Maiale said he decided to step down from the board due to a confluence of factors.

“Three or four things happened,” he told reporters during a break in Wednesday’s board meeting. “Tony Clark was my responsibility. I was largely responsible for picking him. I think he did a real good job, the [investment return] results announced today confirmed that. ... I think the Office of General Counsel served the board, including me, poorly in how they handled that. They didn’t tell me anything [about the allegations] until they already sent it to outside counsel, which really put us all in an awkward position. At that point, [State Treasurer Rob] McCord added fuel to the fire by putting everything out in the public realm. My term ended technically December 16, so if I’m the governor’s office, I don’t need that ... we had communications through some mutual friends and decided it was probably the right time to move on.”

Mr. Maiale was lauded by numerous board members for his years of service during Wednesday’s meeting.

Glenn Becker, the new board chairman, said following the meeting that he hopes the investigation can be promptly completed, as well as the hiring of a new CIO.

““We really want to get both of those things completed just as quickly as we can,” Mr. Becker said.

He added, “We need to be very, very careful and mindful that we don’t want to be distracted by what’s going on. We have a mission here, to manage the funds for a quarter of a million pensioners and beneficiaries. That’s our mission.”

Kate Giammarise:, 1-717-787-4254 or Twitter @KateGiammarise.

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