Senator calls for disclosure of hidden documents

Sen. Fargo Merrill Piepkorn told KX News that he will “do whatever it takes” to get the SIB to release the amounts consultants pay consultants.

The State Investment Board, or SIB, met Friday morning for its monthly meeting. Much of the meeting was devoted to managing North Dakota’s more than $8 billion oil tax fund: the Legacy Fund.

Board members discussed controversial foreign investments and how state open registration laws apply to information the SIB withholds from the public.

Due to mounting public pressure, SIB has discussed the possibility of withdrawing its investments from the controversial Chinese company, Alibaba.

For the 2019-20 fiscal year, Alibaba was the Legacy Fund’s largest foreign holding company and the eighth-largest fund holder with nearly $15 million.

KX News filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the 2020-21 fiscal year that shows North Dakota’s Legacy Fund is even more invested in Alibaba at nearly $20 million.

Another topic of discussion was the Lieutenant Governor’s blocking of information that allegedly showed the amounts consultants are paying Chief Financial Advisor Callan to recommend handling Legacy Fund dollars.

KX News’ ongoing investigation found that the majority of Legacy Fund fund managers paid Callan and were recommended by Callan to the board.

The deputy attorney general assigned to the SIB signaled that the entire council would need to vote to make this decision and not just one individual.

Sen. Merrill Piepkorn (D-Fargo) said he would do whatever it takes to get the SIB to release the amounts so the public can find out if the consultants who pay Callan the most get preferential treatment.

“North Dakotans should know how much people who act as consultants are spending and investing in the Legacy Fund. We should have the right to know how much these people are paying Callan to then be recommended for these positions,” Piepkorn said.