On the October 8, 2019 agenda, #13, the Geauga County Treasurer Christopher Hitchcock requested the Board approve RedTree Investment Management (Kindred Spirits Investment Management, LLC) to provide advice for county investments.
A quick search of the OH Sec. of States business filing shows this company was cancelled “by operation of law” on June 26, 2019.
The request was tabled until the 10/17 meeting at 9:00 a.m., which was then cancelled. By the way, the company was started in only 2014. Taxpayers need to attend the Commissioners’ meetings and find out how your money is spent. You won’t like it.
On the same day the issue was tabled, RedTree Investment filed a “hurry-up” document with the OH Secretary of State to reinstate the company, even paying an extra $300 to expedite it.
A further check of the company online shows a glossy brochure with a staff of eight, claiming a combined fifty years of experience. That does not seem like much. However, a Dun & Bradstreet filing on 08/13/2019 lists a total of two employees with annual sales of $201,781. The D & B information is entered by the company.
Hitchcock, who boasted earlier this year about the financial fitness of the county, did not bother to attend the meeting. His Chief Deputy, Caroline Mansfield, made the presentation, which appeared to be a “slam dunk” acceptance by the Commissioners.
Mansfield was asked about the background of the company and she said Hitchcock has known the owner, Ryan Nelson, for several years and the treasurer’s office called two or three of RedTree’s clients to check on the company. This smells like “cronyism.”
The contract and paperwork for the company shows that Hitchcock approved USBank to pay the company with documents signed in September.
This is not how a business background should ever be done. The Commissioners were ready to commit to a company in Cincinnati without knowing anything about them or mentioning that the company charges a “percentage of assets under your management” or “fixed fees.” Which one is it? It turns out the contract is for $26,000/yr. with the first payment of $6,500 due on October 1. The commissioners have all this bogus information but were prepared to approve the contract.
They should not even consider doing business with this company. The company is also not insured. Their Certificate of Liability Insurance with the state shows that two Hartford policies expired this month.
Geauga Prosecutor James Flaiz has four inept investigators sitting around listening to phone calls being made from the jail and earning in excess of $300,000 in salaries and benefits. Why aren’t they investigating the backgrounds of all the companies the county does business with.
Let me guess. They don’t know how.