Track Record of GOP's Treasurer Pick Put to Test - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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Track Record of GOP's Treasurer Pick Put to Test

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David Lillard, GOP nominee for state treasurer David Lillard, GOP nominee for state treasurer
Lillard, talking to reporters Lillard, talking to reporters
Ira Brody, unsuccessful treasurer candidate Ira Brody, unsuccessful treasurer candidate

Republican leaders had backed New York investment banker Ira Brody for state treasurer.

That was until our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams uncovered questions about his background, including his claims to have lived here since 2004.

Now, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has uncovered questions about the man who did get the Republican nomination to be state treasurer.

That man, David Lillard, is a tax attorney and a Shelby County commissioner -- and he claims he's got the experience to manage billions of dollars of your money.

If you hire an investment manager, you want to know his or her track record. So Williams checked his track record.

In his case, Lillard tells folks to look at what he's done in Shelby County.

"I've sat on the Shelby county pension board. I've been a trustee of the Shelby County retirement system," he told Phil Williams and other reporters after the vote of the joint Senate-House Republican caucus.

And that's what he has told the lawmakers who'll elect the state's next treasurer.

With more than $30 billion of your money at stake, NewsChannel 5 Investigates checked the numbers to see how Lillard's track record compares to the career state employee who now controls your money.

Under state treasurer Dale Sims, the state says its pension fund lost 22 percent during the big economic downturn of 2008.

But Shelby County says it suffered losses of 36 percent.

Asked about what that says about his track record, the Shelby County commissioner suddenly dismisses that experience with his local system.

"I believe in being a conservative investor with respect to pension funds, and I think that's important," Lillard told Williams.

"But," Williams asked, "Shelby County lost much more than the state did. So why can you do better?"

"Well, again, I think my own personal philosophy is somewhat different from some of the people who control other pension funds -- for instance, the Shelby County fund.

"I only served a year on the board down there, and one of the reasons was because I think it should be conservatively invested."

And there's one other big difference.

Right now, Shelby County's fund is about $700 million. The state's pension system is more than $26 billion. That's about 37 times the size of the pension fund in Lillard's home county.

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