New Jersey sells 1 pension fund investment

Investment sold to Washington University in St. Louis for $14.1M

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey has sold its pension fund investment in a venture capital firm that has connections to a Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate.

The state Treasurer’s Office announced Tuesday that it had sold its investment in General Catalyst to Washington University in St. Louis for $14.1 million, netting the state a $4.5 million profit over what it paid for the investment in December 2011.

The investment has attracted scrutiny because of political connections.

Republican Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker has been the firm’s entrepreneur in residence since 2011. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Baker’s unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 2010, and Baker gave $10,000 to the New Jersey GOP in 2011.

It is against New Jersey law for the state to use investment firms with managers who have made political donations in the state over the past two years.

The state announced an audit of the situation in May, and Treasury spokesman Joseph Perone said that review is continuing. He also said the state would invest its profits in other investments.

Baker has maintained that his position with the company was identifying potential investment opportunities, but not making decisions on investments or managing funds.

His campaign spokesman issued a one-sentence statement about the sale. “We are pleased that this matter appears to have been resolved,” said the spokesman, Tim Buckley.

Baker, a former chief executive of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, was named an executive in residence by General Catalyst a few months after he was defeated by incumbent Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick in the November 2010 election.

He defeated tea party member Mark Fisher in last week’s GOP primary and will face Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley and three independent candidates in the November election.

Baker is on leave from General Catalyst.

The company has not returned messages from The Associated Press.

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Salsberg reported from Boston.

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