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Fasano files two bills to thwart "cozy" relationships between SBA officials and investment firms

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, filed two proposals Friday in effort to deter "cozy employment and investment relatinoships" between officials of the State Board of Administration and executives of firms in which the agency invests.

Fasano this fall rattled the agency, which manages Florida's pension fund, by demanding information about a $125 million investment in a hedge fund, now known as Starboard . His public records request resulted in a $10,750 bill from SBA executive director Ash Williams, whose past ties to the manager of the hedge fund was spotlighted in stories by the St. Petersburg Times in July 2010.

"The longer I looked into this matter the more concerned I became that the system we have in place could potentially allow for improper relationships to develop between Florida’s investment and trust agency and the organizations it does business with," Fasano said in a statement.

  • SB 1212 would prohibit top-ranking SBA employees, meaning "those in a position to make investment-related decisions," from being hired by investment firms in a similar position within three years of their departure from the SBA.
  • SB 1214 would require top-ranking SBA employees to wait three years before starting new jobs with firms that do business with the SBA. Firms that violate this law would lose half of their profits made while "in violation."

The manager, Thomas Strauss, was a client at Fir Tree Partners, the hedge fund where Williams was a managing director before taking over the SBA in October 2008.

"This legislation will ensure that individuals responsible for investing, and companies that do business with Florida, will not be able to benefit from their respective positions or relationships," Fasano said.