In response to your page 2, Sept. 6 "Tactics Decried" article, Barry B. Burr falsely reported that "CSAG officials did not return phone calls." On the day in question, I was in meetings but returned Mr. Burr's message at roughly 7 p.m. and provided three numbers at which I could be reached for comment — a fact that was recently confirmed by Mr. Burr during a conversation. According to subsequent discussions with your editorial staff, he had the entire next morning to reach me or make factual corrections to the article.
Mr. Burr's "mistake" is symptomatic of a piece that is designed to misdirect and obfuscate facts related to the fiduciary responsibility of Gary W. Findlay, executive director of the Missouri State Employees' Retirement System, and his counterparts in the public pension system community regarding global security risk:
Conflict Securities Advisory Group Inc., as Mr. Findlay is well aware, is an impartial, independent and private research firm incorporated under the laws of the state of Virginia. We offer a software product called the Global Security Risk Monitor that is used by a number of leading institutional investors, including Comptroller William Thompson of New York City and Arizona state Treasurer David Petersen, as well as the governments of Japan and the United States to identify publicly traded companies that have business ties to U.S. State Department-designated terrorist-sponsoring states.
The reason respected entities use our product to make such identifications is due to the proven risk to share value and corporate reputation that often accompanies such corporate activities. That view is shared by SEC Chairman Donaldson, who has characterized this risk category as a "crucial issue for investors."
While some pension system officials such as Mr. Findlay may choose to ignore governmental warnings regarding this risk to the retirement funds of their beneficiaries, I must take issue with his accusation that my firm is "desperately seeking to market" our product. In fact, our firm has more business than we can handle and accepted Mr. Findlay's request for a meeting at the behest of our partner firm, Investor Responsibility Research Center.
Adam M. Pener
chief operating officer
Advisory Group Inc.
editor's note: Mr. Pener called back after business hours on Thursday, and Mr. Burr inadvertently failed to change the sentence saying calls weren't returned.