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Pension Funds

New Mexico attorney general looking into some executives’ raises at state pension fund

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is reviewing charges that certain executives at the $14.6 billion New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association, Santa Fe, were improperly given raises, said David Carl, Mr. Balderas' director of communications, in an email.

"We can confirm that we have received the public referral by Treasurer Eichenberg," according to a written statement from Mr. Balderas' office. "The allegations raised within the referral and the impact they have on the integrity and security of our public employees' futures and the PERA fund, are concerning and will be reviewed thoroughly."

In an opinion article sent to several news outlets in the state, New Mexico Treasurer Tim Eichenberg claimed that PERA Executive Director Wayne Propst "has basically given himself and other PERA employees tens of thousands of dollars in raises without full board of trustees approval."

Mr. Eichenberg declined to comment.

In 2014, Mr. Propst, who currently makes $166,290 a year, "convinced the then-board chair to give him a $14,000 (or 10%) raise," Mr. Eichenberg claimed in his written op-ed. "The full board never voted directly on that raise. And Mr. Propst got two additional raises without full board approval."

Overall, Mr. Eichenberg claimed that Mr. Propst received about $25,000 in raises without full board approval.

A special board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday and PERA's operating budget is on the agenda. The budget as drafted would give a 4% raise, Mr. Eichenberg said.

The 4% raise included in the budget is the raise authorized by the state Legislature for all state employees, Mr. Propst said in an email.

In April, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a general fund spending bill that included pay increases for state employees of 4%. "Treasurer Eichenberg is more interested in spreading false and misleading information than the truth," Mr. Propst said in a written statement.

"As executive director of PERA, I have never given myself a pay raise, nor could I do so even if I wanted to. I received the same 2% increase this year that the NM Legislature authorized for all state employees."

All compensation increases, promotions and reclassifications at PERA have been made transparently and in compliance with state law as well as in compliance with the policies of the State Personnel Office and Department of Finance and Administration, "and the historical practices of the agency dating to before my time at PERA," Mr. Propst said.

"I have made all personnel decisions at PERA with only one thing in mind: What is in the best interest of our members and protecting our Trust Fund. It is deeply troubling to have my personal and professional reputation attacked by an elected official for political reasons," Mr. Propst said. "I have welcomed review of my actions by the office of the state auditor and the attorney general because I have nothing to hide.