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SEC charges Macon-Bibb County pension board official for improper RFP influence

A former board member of three Macon-Bibb County, Ga., public pension funds has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with improperly influencing their selection of an investment adviser to manage more than $400 million of pension fund assets.

The SEC complaint issued March 15 alleges that former county manager Dale M. Walker provided an unfair competitive advantage to one investment adviser due to his romantic interest in someone affiliated with the firm. That advantage included providing confidential proposals of other investment adviser candidates to the firm and having the contact analyze and rank the candidates, which resulted in her firm being ranked first among seven RFP submissions. The complaint also said that Mr. Walker falsely represented that he prepared the analysis and failed to disclose his conflict of interest.

Local press reports identified the investment adviser as Independent Portfolio Consultants and the pension funds as two closed plans, $85 million Division A of the Macon-Bibb County Pension and Retirement System (for former Macon city workers), the $224 million Macon-Bibb County Fire & Police Department Employees Retirement System; and the $115 million Macon-Bibb County Employee Pension Plan. SEC officials declined to comment beyond the complaint.

Mr. Walker served as Macon-Bibb County manager from January 2014 to April 2017, which involved him serving on the pension funds' boards. He also served as Macon's chief administrative officer from 2011 to 2013, prior to Macon's consolidation with Bibb County.

Mr. Walker did not admit or deny the allegations. He agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty and to be enjoined from participating on behalf of a government entity in any involvement with managing any public pensions or making investment recommendations to such entities, as well as any offering of municipal securities.