— With the stock market melting down, it's getting harder to remember the money world's free-spending heyday, when exotic investment vehicles such as hedge funds were confidently prospecting for new money from public pension funds. But financial disclosure records reveal that before the market went south this summer, local government pension fund staffers were gifted, wined, and dined by a host of financial advisors. Take the case of John Paul Colafrancesco, retirement investment officer for the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association. Last December around Christmas, he got a $75 fruit basket from the Townsend Group, a San Francisco real estate consultant. The same month, he got an $85 fruit basket from Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors, another real estate manager, based in Hartford, Connecticut, and a $125 fruit basket from Kennedy Associates, a Seattle real estate manager. Not to be outdone, Granite Global, a private equity manager from Menlo Park, California, gave Colafrancesco a $75 tea set. Last August, LRG Capital of San Francisco paid for a $70 harbor excursion. In May of last year, TA Associates, a venture capital manager in Menlo Park, gave him "clocks" worth $152. The same month, he walked away with a $32 book and an $85 jacket courtesy of Menlo Park's Oak Hill Capital Management, a private equity manager. In March of last year, Oaktree Capital Management of Los Angeles contributed a $75 tote bag, $35 for breakfast and lunch, and a $9 "donation to painted turtle camp."

David Deutsch, the fund's chief investment officer, reported getting meals worth a total of $195 at some of the town's poshest restaurants from a host of advisors. In February of last year, Joel Damon of JPMorgan hosted a $25 lunch at Rainwater's. The next month, it was back to the same place for a $25 lunch, thanks to Michael Ryan of Berens Capital. That May, Western Asset Management's Joe Carieri picked up a $20 tab at downtown's Karl Strauss microbrewery. In March of this year, Deutsch reported, Lori Johnson of Artisan Partners paid $25 for lunch at Prego. Retirement investment officer Brian Johnson went out for $20 in drinks and a $50 "sporting event," thanks to investment manager Hansberger Global Investors in Fort Lauderdale. A $175 "sporting event" came from Western Asset Management of Pasadena. Cargill, Inc., gave Johnson a $30 lunch and a $99 iPod shuffle. Three lunches from Rocaton Investment Advisors of Norwalk, Connecticut, totaled $60. Putnam Investments paid for two dinners totaling $100. Westridge Capital Management of Santa Barbara hosted a $50 dinner.

Assistant chief investment officer Lisa Needle took in a $300 "sporting event," also thanks to Western Asset Management, and Franklin Templeton's Mike Poremba of San Mateo paid for a $150 "sporting event." She got a $50 dinner from Morgan Stanley's Michael Wright of New York.

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