The benefits of playing golf with your buddies

April 21, 1997

I have been horribly remiss in not mentioning this before, but I would like to take this time to point out what a marvelous job the INVESCO investment management firm is doing with the Washington County pension fund.

And heck, not just with Washington County's pension fund but with investment funds all across the country - country? Nay, across the entire planet, I say.

I do not believe there to be a finer example of corporate structure, competence, performance and good citizenship than is provided as unfailingly and as unselfishly as by INVESCO.


What? Oh, no reason. I just think it's about time INVESCO got the recognition it deserves, that's all.

Yes, they're real tigers over at INVESCO. They do a masterful job driving their clients away from the sharks and out of the rough and onto the smooth sands and green pastures of financial success by pinning their resources on bunkers of sound investments that fit their customers to a tee.

Not that I'm implying anything. Or would ever expect anything in return for my endorsement. Everything here is completely above board.

Did I mention azaleas are my favorite flower?

Hey, it worked for Washington County Commission President Greg Snook, County Administrator Rod Shoop and Personnel Director Al Davis, who just by pure, distilled coincidence, also happen to be the three major players who decide what company is going to get the county's $22 million pension business.

Of course there's no conflict of interest here, because the three county officials reimbursed INVESCO $400 each for their tickets to the Masters golf tournament and for food and lodging.

Masters tickets, incidentally, can be worth upwards of $8,000 each on the scalpers' market, according to golf experts. The county says it's evening the score by reimbursing INVESCO a couple hundred bucks. So if INVESCO gives the county a Mickey Mantle rookie card, the county only has to reimburse INVESCO the original value of five cents?

So lets see, which investment firm do you suppose will get the nod next time these three huddle up to decide on the county's pension contract:


B.) Dean Witter

C.) Home Federal Savings Bank

INVESCO "Who, Us?" corporate officials say this is an entirely innocent gesture of goodwill. "We do this with a number of our clients," an INVESCO spokesman said.

The key difference being, of course, that "a number of their clients" aren't spending our tax money. And how must county employees feel, knowing that their retirement is in the hands of administrators who are accepting $21,000-plus in discounts from the company that manages the money?

Employees have to wonder, if another investment company offers a better deal for their money, will the county leaders take it, or will they stick with their golfing buddies at INVESCO? What if INVESCO gets into financial trouble? Will the county ditch it, or will its administrators hold out in hopes of Indy 500 tickets and a new Jeep Wagoneer?

A favor worth twenty grand is not a simple good will gesture. If this were a good will gesture, INVESCO would have sent Rod Shoop and Co. an Easter ham. And they would have invited the director of golf, not the director of personnel.

Do these guys ever think? Does Greg Snook really believe that without connections to a zillion-dollar investment firm he could walk right onto the lawns of Augusta for $100?

Even if they never cut INVESCO one break, Snook, Shoop and Martin give the appearance of hanging a big shingle on the door of county government saying "We can be bought."

Memo to contractors: Please place your bids on the right-hand pile, the playoff tickets on the left.

Of course if they forward the tickets on to me, I'll happily never write about the issue again.

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