Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adkins: Investigate Pension Fund; Legislator Asks State to Find out If Laws or Rules Have Been Broken

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adkins: Investigate Pension Fund; Legislator Asks State to Find out If Laws or Rules Have Been Broken

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein & Eileen Kelley

State Rep. Janet Adkins asked the governor to launch a state investigation into the practices of the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund following a series of stories in the Florida Times-Union.

The many reports by the newspaper create an appearance of impropriety and raise issues of questionable practices and leadership, Adkins wrote.

Adkins' letter seeks an investigation led by the Office of the Chief Inspector General and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to determine whether the pension fund violated any state laws or rules.

"It is clear the public trust has been broken," Adkins wrote in her letter, which is dated Dec. 10 and was sent to Gov. Rick Scott last week.

The Governor's Office is reviewing Adkin's request, spokeswoman Jeri Bustamante said Tuesday.

John Keane, executive director of the Police and Fire Pension Fund, said "we have no response" to Adkins' letter.

"Rep. Adkins is an elected official and she has every right to write to the governor about anything she wishes," Keane said.

He said the first time he saw the letter was Tuesday, when a reporter showed it to him.

He said he's not aware of any violations of state law by the pension fund. A mixture of state laws and city ordinances regulate the pension fund, which is an independent agency of city government, overseen by a five-member board.

Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, whose district covers Nassau County and part of Duval County, specifically asks for an investigation of a special pension plan the Police and Fire Pension Fund board created for senior staff members, including Keane, the longtime executive director.

Earlier this year, the Times-Union pointed out that the pension fund added more than $250,000 to the pension plan that covers Keane and two others, even though city lawyers told the pension fund board in 2012 it should close down the pension plan because the City Council never approved it.

The pension fund's own attorney countered in 2012 that the "Florida Legislature has fully empowered the board to create such a plan" because state law gives the pension fund's board the power to compensate its employees, and a pension is a form of compensation.

The pension plan came to light in 2012 in an actuarial report. That meant that for more than a dozen years, few people knew of the special pension, which has grown to a value of more than $4 million for the three people enrolled in it.

"City council members and constituents are voicing their concerns that special pension funds were created without the City Council's feedback and at the taxpayer expense," Adkins said in the letter.

Adkins also wants to know if state rules and laws were followed in regard to the creation, management and regulation of Deferred Retirement Option Program accounts. …

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