The board that handles the billions of dollars in the retirement system for state workers again refuses to withdraw its investments in a bank the state treasurer does not like, but it does create a system to study the matter. State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a member of the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System (MOSERS) board, says the state should take all invesments out of Arab Bank, which she says has terrorist ties. The board has refused to do that, but has agreed to set up a system of screening of companies in which the state invests its retirement funds. Steelman has hoped for more, but she’ll accept half a loaf. Steelman’s most vocal opponent on the MOSERS board, State Representative Todd Smith (R-Sedalia) says Steelman is basing her position on headlines, innuendo, and Google searches. Only reluctantly does he call the new policy a “middle ground”. Steelman says she’ll take the Arab Bank issue back to the board in September, even though the board will not have a screening system in place by then. Smith says that’s a non-issue for that meeting as far as he’s concerned. And he says the policy Steelman suggests has a lot of gray areas, such as whether the state should invest money in companies that provides malaria drugs to people in a country that supports terrorism, programs that are supported by the US Government, even if the country itself is not.
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