The chairman of Pennsylvania's $26.5 billion state employee pension system said Monday he is stepping down, partly because of state Treasurer Rob McCord's criticism of the handling of allegations of possible misconduct against its chief investment officer.
Nicholas Maiale, who has chaired the State Employees' Retirement System for 21 of his 28 years on its board, said he decided to leave because he was largely responsible for hiring the investment chief and because McCord's comments have inflamed the situation.
The allegations were "not handled well by the governor's office and the noise level got too high" after McCord went public with his criticism, said Maiale, a former state representative from Philadelphia.
Maiale, 62, whose term on the board expired Dec. 16, said he agreed to leave the board after conferring with Gov. Tom Corbett's office. Corbett did not reappoint Maiale after his term expired.
"I think we all agree that it's time to move on," Maiale said. "''If I'm Gov. Corbett, I don't need all this noise over petty matters."
Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said his boss did not ask for Maiale's resignation, but that Maiale's characterization of the governor's motives is strictly his point of view. Pagni could not give a timetable to replace him.
McCord, an elected official who serves on the pension board, has said lawyers working for the Republican governor mishandled their investigation of the allegations against SERS investment chief Anthony S. "Tony" Clark by waiting two months to inform the board.
McCord, one of eight Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge Corbett's re-election bid in 2014, also has criticized Maiale's leadership as board chairman.
The allegations involve the possibility that Clark used his state computer to do day trading and hid information about a troubled investment from the board, according to the governor's Office of General Counsel.
Clark, who is not charged with any crime, plans to retire from his $270,000-a-year job Tuesday. His lawyer has said that he moved up his retirement date because it would be difficult to do his job while an outside lawyer hired by the board looks into the allegations.
In his resignation letter to Corbett, Maiale said he plans to step down as board chairman on Friday and to resign from the board altogether at the end of its next meeting on Jan. 22.
John Lisko, McCord's chief of staff, said McCord is "eagerly awaiting the governor's selection for the new chairman."