Theobald free-rent arrangement revealed

A firm run by Edward Theobald, the former chairman of the state Retirement Board, received free rent from a company that was conducting business before the board, according to documents on file with the state Retirement System.

Theobald did not mention the arrangement – allegedly worth more than $6,000 – on his own disclosure statement with the board.

Northwinds Marketing Group gave Maiden Lane Partners – of which Theobald was a half-owner – free rent worth $4,005 and provided meals and entertainment to Theobald personally worth $1,898, according to disclosures filed with the board by American Express Asset Management Group on Aug. 13, 2004. Northwinds is a subsidiary of American Express Asset Management Group and represents it in front of various institutional boards that invest in American Express Asset Management Group funds, including the New Hampshire Retirement System.

(A letter attached to the disclosure statement dated July 21, 2004, stated that the value of the rent was $4,610 and the value of the meals and entertainment was $2,441, but there is no explanation for the discrepancy.)

Northwinds and Maiden Lane had shared a Boston office for at least two years, according to documents at the Retirement System (“Ex-chairman’s deals overlapped Retirement Board investments,” Oct. 28-Nov. 10 New Hampshire Business Review.

It was during this time that the retirement system started dealing with Northwinds Boston office, specifically with its executive vice president, Clarke Blizzard.

Blizzard subsequently appeared in front of the Retirement Board on August 10, 2004 – three days before Northwind’s disclosure — pitching another fund that the board later invested in. The minutes did not show any discussion of Theobald sharing an office with Blizzard rent-free.

The day after Northwinds disclosed the alleged free rent, Theobald filed his own disclosure statement revealing for the first time that his firm shared an office with Northwinds. (Previous disclosure statements from both Theobald and Northwinds made no mention of the fact.) Theobald’s statement did not mention Blizzard’s association with Northwinds, nor did he disclose that his firm was renting the office without paying rent.

Gov. John Lynch and the Executive Council replaced Theobald Oct. 6 amid controversy over other conflict-of-interest allegations. The attorney general also has launched an investigation of Theobald, but would not disclose any details of the investigation.

Northwinds said it would not comment. Theobald would not return phone calls, and Blizzard could not be reached by NHBR Daily. — BOB SANDERS.

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