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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Center for Security Policy has criticized Utah for refusing to open its records for the organization's study into state pension funds' investments in companies doing business in nations supporting terrorists.
State officials said the law prohibits releasing such information, and they are careful to avoid investments that would aid terrorism.
The Center for Security Policy, which describes itself as an organization that promotes international peace through a strong America, said this week that America's top public pension systems hold $200 billion in stock in companies doing business in countries such as Iran, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Libya, Sudan, Syria and North Korea.
"(Utah) just basically didn't want to provide the information," said Frank Gaffney Jr., the center's president and chief executive. "Of all the hundreds of funds we tried to deal with, Utah's response was the most categorical and . . dismissive."
In a letter to Gov. Olene Walker and state Treasurer Ed Alter, Gaffney, an assistant defense secretary in the Reagan administration, asked them to require "your public pension systems to help win the financial war against terrorism .... The moral and security imperative to defeat terrorism should be the overriding issue for every state official in America."
Walker and Alter were at the Republican National Convention in New York Thursday.
Dan Andersen, counsel for the Utah State Retirement System, said state law "has a pretty strict confidentiality provision" concerning any broad release of pension investment information.
Alter's chief deputy, Robert Kirk, said the state is "taking a closer look" at its investments with regard to terror considerations.
"But we need to be very careful about this and not punish (a company) before we have all the facts," he said. "This is an issue with broad implications and it needs to be evaluated."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)