Jeffrey D. Baker, former investment officer for the $8.6 billion San Diego County Employees' Retirement Association, filed a federal lawsuit against SDCERA; Lee Partridge, the pension fund's portfolio strategist; Mr. Partridge's former firm, Integrity Capital Services; and Brian White, SDCERA's CEO, claiming he was terminated for reporting investment policy violations.
The complaint by Mr. Baker, who was terminated in July 2011, claims Mr. Partridge and his firm retaliated against him because he had reported to government agents and his superiors violations of the retirement association's risk budget for high yield and the U.S. Treasury programs under the pension fund's investment policy statement. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego and seeks unspecified damages.
In March, the San Diego County Civil Service Commission upheld Mr. Baker's termination as investment officer for releasing e-mails to a local newspaper and failing to cooperate with the investigation into the release of those e-mails. The commission originally had upheld the termination in November and Mr. Baker appealed.
Integrity Capital Services, founded by Mr. Partridge, has been the pension fund's portfolio strategist, roughly performing the duties of an external chief investment officer, since October 2009. Mr. Partridge is now CIO of Salient Partners, which purchased Integrity Capital in November 2010.
At about the same time, Salient took over as San Diego County's portfolio strategist, with Mr. Partridge still at the helm.
“SDCERA is in the process of reviewing the complaint. However, these issues were already actively litigated by Mr. Baker in the Civil Service Commission, which ruled against him, and we believe Mr. Baker is precluded from relitigating the issue yet again,” stated Johanna Shick, SDCERA's communications manager, in an e-mail.
Mr. Partridge declined comment and executives at Salient Partners were unavailable to comment, Christina Moon, spokeswoman, said in e-mails in response to inquiries.