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N.C. judge dismisses records suit against state treasurer

By The Associated Press
07.22.08

RALEIGH, N.C. — A judge has dismissed a public-records lawsuit against State Treasurer Richard Moore that claimed he withheld documents about the state's pension fund, ruling there wasn't the evidence to let the case continue.

Superior Court Judge Jim Hardin yesterday sided with Moore in the lawsuit filed by the State Employees Association of North Carolina, which accused Moore and his office of failing to comply fully with records requests for information about the pension funds, valued at $73 billion.

Moore said his agency ultimately provided more than 2,000 pages of documents that the group had asked for and called the lawsuit politically motivated.

The lawsuit was filed in February during the heat of the Democratic gubernatorial primary between Moore and eventual winner Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue. The association never endorsed a candidate but has been critical of Moore in recent years.

"It is unfortunate that SEANC's tactics scared retirees about the security of the second best pension fund in the nation," Moore said in a news release. "North Carolinians can rest assured that our pension fund remains strong and secure."

Dana Cope, the association’s executive director, said he would recommend to the group's governing board to appeal the ruling. He said there was still specific correspondence that his group hadn't received from Moore.

"If they give us the documents we want, we will drop the lawsuit," he said.

The association sued after it said Moore and his office of failed to completely respond to two records requests about the pension funds, including detailed information about outside fund managers and the types of investments made by the pension funds since 2001, when Moore took office.

The hostility between association leaders and Moore ramped up over the past year after a 2007 report found he had accepted more than $700,000 in campaign donations from employees, or their relatives, of nearly half the companies that have contracts to manage portions of the pension money.

Moore has repeatedly denied there was any connection between the donations and who received the management contracts.

The association unsuccessfully pushed legislation during this year's legislative session that would have removed the treasurer as the sole legal trustee in charge of pension money for 820,000 public employees and retirees.

The legislation became the focus of bribery allegations last month. Moore's lawyer claimed that an association attorney offered to drop the lawsuit provided in part that Moore publicly back the bill shifting oversight of the pension money to a panel.

The association called the allegation preposterous, saying it was simply part of out-of-court settlement negotiations. Hardin heard the bribery claims in open court last month but didn't mention them in his order.


Related

Judge dismisses records lawsuit against N.C. governor (news)
Raleigh News & Observer had asked for documents relating to Gov. Mike Easley's clemency decisions. 10.27.05

N.C. town must pay newspaper's legal fees in records dispute (news)
Judge orders Kitty Hawk officials to pay Outer Banks Sentinel $75,000, says town's attorneys used 'totally unwarranted' tactics in defending case. 06.21.07

N.C. appeals court sides with newspapers in open-records fight (news)
Unanimous ruling finds governments can't simply place document in personnel file and call it exempt from state's public-records law. 07.06.07

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