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Ohio Governor DeWine Supports Special Audit Of Ohio Teachers Pension Spurred By Retiree Forensic Investigation

Today Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued the following statement in support of a Special Audit of the $100 billion State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber and his office is currently conducting.

“This week, I spoke with Auditor Faber regarding his ongoing special audit of STRS. The issues being reviewed are of real importance to Ohio teachers and retired teachers: the transparency of the pension system, investment costs and fees, and the impact of cost-of-living adjustments. I am supportive of the Auditor’s efforts, and I look forward to the findings of the special audit. I am also encouraged by recent actions of the STRS Board to begin to address cost-of-living concerns.”

As I wrote last October, a forensic investigation commissioned by 19,000 retirees participating in the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio spurred the Special Audit by the State Auditor.

In a letter dated October 11, 2021, Keith Faber, the Auditor of the State of Ohio informed the Executive Director of the $100 billion State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio that his Office had received numerous complaints evolving from a report issued by my firm, Benchmark Financial Services, Inc. titled The High Cost of Secrecy: Preliminary Findings of Forensic Investigation of State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, Commissioned by the Ohio Retired Teachers Association.

“The information obtained to date supports a reasonable basis for conducting a special audit,” said the Auditor.

The findings of the Benchmark report included that STRS had long abandoned transparency; legislative oversight of the pension had utterly failed; Wall Street may have been permitted to pocket lavish fees without scrutiny as to legitimacy; disclosure of investment costs and performance may have been misrepresented, as billions that could have been used to pay teachers’ retirement benefits had been squandered.

While I cannot be certain why Governor DeWine chose to issue the above statement in support of the Special Audit by Ohio Auditor Faber at this time, or whether Faber’s office will find any deficiencies, wrongdoing or violations of law at the teachers’ pension, I do know there is a primary election in the gubernatorial race currently underway ending May 3rd and there is no voting issue more important to teachers in Ohio than restoring the annual cost of living adjustment they were promised for decades.

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