Alaska Permanent Fund committee tries to figure out how to stay out of media limelight

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At the Governance Committee for the Alaska Permanent Fund Board of Trustees on Monday afternoon, there was much talk about transparency and “building back the trust” with the public.

The committee members and their consultant team discussed the delicate balance the board of trustees has in talking to people who promote investment opportunities to the $80 billion sovereign wealth fund of Alaska, and how the trustees communicates those opportunities to the professional staff.

There was also discussion about the need for better crisis communications to deal with matters that could arise.

All of the discussion was aimed at resolving issues that put the Permanent Fund Corporation in an unflattering limelight over the past few weeks, after someone inside the professional staff leaked out emails to the Alaska Landmine website that showed how uncomfortable the chief investment officer was with trustee Ellie Rubenstein’s perceived heavy-handedness in pushing investments possibly related to her own financial interests.

Rubenstein is vice chair of the board of trustees and chairs the governance committee. She also has a father — David Rubenstein — who is famous for the world-famous private equity fund he started, Carlyle Group, which has in the past managed a small portion of the Alaska Permanent Fund’s investments and would probably appreciate more opportunity. She’s also on speed dial with the governor of Alaska. The leaked emails revealed she may have an interest in getting rid of the board Chairman Ethan Schutt.

Britt Harris IV, who was named acting CEO of the $56.7 billion Austin-based Texas Permanent School Fund Corp., is on the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s investment advisory group. He advised the board more than once that there needs to be a clear line of responsibility between the trustees and the the professional staff. He and other advisers reminded the board that although they may be approached by many people at conferences eager for the business of the Alaska Permanent Fund, their role ends after they make a referral to the professional staff. The fund is doing well, they said, and there’s not a lot of room to wedge in another investment adviser.

Britt acknowledged that when at conferences, trustees are expected to treat people they meet with courtesy and professionalism, but passing along the information to the staff should be where it ends.

The committee discussed setting up a common email address where they can send the information, so that other board members and staff could see it, adding to a sense of transparency.

The Funston Advisory Group, which advises Permanent and Sovereign Wealth Funds, had a list of recommendations that were in addition to some of the ideas the trustees and staff came up with:

  • – Establish Board term limits
  • – Establish an Enterprise Performance Risk Management Program
  • – Formalize internal CIO Investment Committee structure, duties and reporting practices
  • – Develop clear and expanded compliance monitoring and reporting responsibilities
  • – Forrnalize due diligence processes and related compliance reporting
  • – Spell out Board Standards Policy discipline options and procedure
  • – Consolidate all governance bylaws, charters and policies into Manual
  • – Provide secure laptops or tablets to trustees for APFC business Develop investment beliefs to further guide planning and policies
  • – Revise the Audit Committee Charter to provide for: o Committee monitoring of compliance with audit report recommendations
  • – Audits of investment and operations reports for accuracy and reliability

There were no votes taken during the meeting, which was attended by all members of the board of trustees, with the exception of Chairman Schutt. About 65 other people were dialed into the meeting, but no one from the public offered any comments during the public comment segment of the agenda.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Never would have thought the PFD committee is corrupt. With Juneau owned by state unions and special interests, judiciary a pathetic joke, of course a trustee wants first bite on the PFD apple.

  2. We need bone-a-fire “a00 kickers” leading the Permanent Fund Dividend Corp. We don’t need a bunch of posey-sniffers, chasing butterflies and uni-Kron’s, baking cookies, knitting quilts, and paddle boarding!

    We need “A—Kickers” like:
    … Jordan Belfort
    … Gordon Gekko
    … Steve Cohen
    Honest guys focused on High Returns, at any cost!

    All of these other ‘hoity-toities’ need to take their High-Tea // Hot Yoga with Feral Goats // Group Therapy // Kumbaya Events elsewhere!

    • Fire all of them they have no accountability they’ve lost millions or billions put someone that know the market that can make a difference and build the PFD like it’s supposed to be. Keep the government out of it. It was for the people of Alaska not for the governments overspending and stealing out of the of Alaskans hands.

    • Rob B.: you might want to ask your physician about adjusting your meds. You’re free associating your way into irrelevance.

  3. I understand that this article is necessarily brief, and must be read in the context of the earlier articles… But am I the only one confused abut the role of the trustees? Do the trustees have oversight or not? The trustees should not be advising the staff on investment opportunities at all, but should be overseeing the staff work including investments. This whole set up looks very corrupt – and it’s OUR money they’re playing with.

  4. Suzanne, due to thieves in my wife’s subdivision in Kenai , I came in late to the APF meeting as I am sure you noticed if I fact you witnessed the meeting on Zoom. The fact that no one of 65 observers hadn’t comment, is very resounding! If in fact I didn’t get distracted today you could bet I would have been on record. I would have been stating displeasure on the facts that no oversight in law guards the kind of influence Ellie was conflicted in pressuring staff. This wouldn’t happen if each Public Official connected to 10 times the value that our Legislature & Governor deals with budgeting yearly were Bonded. What is appalling is no one cares about this fact although it’s in Alaska’s Statutes.
    In fact two of the trustees are Commissioners that know of their violations & a third Ex AG Craig Richards. Shameful people of Alaska, that not one citizen can see how easy to lose control of OUR MONEY without accountability.

  5. we need to find an attorney that will represent the people of the state of alaska and sue all the legislators that voted to take our permanent fund dividend case is based on that the distribution is done by a formula if we win the money could be recovered and paid by the retirement funds of state government employees and other channels they used to hide the funds

  6. Can we become Americans and make sure APFB is confirmed by Alaska Legislature? It is long overdue!

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