Tuesday News: Getting out while the getting's good


CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER QUITS UNDER TREASURER DALE FOLWELL: Kevin SigRist, the chief investment officer for the $94 billion state pension fund the past four years, has unexpectedly resigned. Folwell has cut fees paid to outside money managers by more than $60 million on an annualized basis, easily exceeding his campaign promise to slash fees by $100 million during the course of his four-year term. In conjunction with that cost-cutting, Folwell has shifted billions of dollars previously invested in stocks into investment-grade bonds and cash – for example, investing in things such as short-term U.S. Treasury bills. At times, according to internal memos reviewed by The News & Observer, Folwell has overruled the recommendations of the pension fund’s investment staff in shifting those funds out of stocks. Critics say the pension fund’s potential returns are being reduced because stocks typically outperform bonds and cash.

ANTI-GERRYMANDERING PLAINTIFFS DEMAND NEW MAPS AND ELECTIONS: Plaintiffs who successfully challenged the legality of North Carolina's legislative districts are asking federal judges to require lawmakers to draw new maps by Aug. 11 and to hold new elections in March, before the next regularly scheduled session of the General Assembly. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs say, state lawmakers lost their authority to pass bills or override vetoes after June 30, when the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the state's voting districts are unconstitutional went into effect. Those arguments are part of the latest filing in the Covington v. North Carolina case, scheduled for a hearing Thursday in a federal courtroom in Greensboro. The three-judge panel that declared the maps unconstitutional last year and ordered lawmakers to draw new ones will now hear arguments about how quickly the process should happen.

WALTER JONES PUSHES TRUMP ON GETTING TROOPS OUT OF AFGHANISTAN: A North Carolina congressman reminded President Donald Trump of his previous opposition to the 16-year-old U.S. war in Afghanistan and urged Trump to allow Congress to debate any plan to send more troops to the nation. “Many of us in the U.S. House of Representatives believe we have been denied our sacred duty to debate and declare war. You could say that I am disappointed by this. Disappointed because after 16 years in Afghanistan, Congress deserves another vote on this conflict,” Jones wrote in the letter. “Disappointed because almost $1 trillion of taxpayers’ money has been spent with no direct goal or strategy. And most importantly, I am disappointed because we continue to lose American lives.”

TRUMP LASHES OUT AT SESSIONS OVER HIS FAILURE TO QUASH RUSSIA PROBE: Fuming about the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and questions as to whether his campaign colluded with foreign officials, Trump again focused his ire on Sessions, who was once one of the president’s closest allies. “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” Trump tweeted Monday. His tweet came just hours before his son-in-law, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, traveled to Capitol Hill to be interviewed about his meetings with Russians. The president’s tweet about Sessions comes less than a week after Trump, in a New York Times interview, criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe, saying he should never have taken the job as attorney general. Sessions recused himself from the investigation earlier this year after it was revealed that he had met with a top Russian diplomat last year.

US NAVAL VESSEL FIRES WARNING SHOT TO SCARE OFF IRANIAN SHIP: An American defense official says a U.S. Navy patrol boat fired warning shots near an Iranian naval ship during a tense encounter in the Persian Gulf. The incident happened Tuesday and involved the USS Thunderbolt, a Cyclone-class patrol ship involved in an exercise with American and other vessels in the Gulf. The official says the Iranian naval vessel came within 150 yards (137 meters) of the Thunderbolt. The official says the Iranian vessel did not respond to radio calls, flares and warning sirens, forcing U.S. sailors to fire the warning shots. Iranian authorities did not immediately report the incident. The American defense official spoke on condition of anonymity as the incident had yet to be made public. Iran and the U.S. frequently have tense naval encounters in the Persian Gulf.