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NM Treasurer: "Potential illegal pay adjustments" at PERA

- Treasurer Tim Eichenberg asks AG Hector Balderas to investigate PERA's Executive Director Wayne Propst.

- Treasurer asks for probe of "potential illegal pay adjustments and job reclassifications."

- Says Propst never had authority to hand out massive raises. Says Propst never got full board authority for the raises.

Wayne Propst, the executive director of the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association who is under fire for handing out pay raises and promotions to PERA staff without board approval, has a new and powerful opponent: state Treasurer Tim Eichenberg.

Eichenberg stunned fellow PERA board members on Feb. 12 when he announced in a public board meeting that he had independently asked state Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate Propst and the raises and promotions he has given to PERA staffers in the past five years.

In asking Balderas to investigate Propst, Eichenburg pulled no punches and described Probst's actions as potentially illegal.

“This is a request for an investigation by your office into potential illegal pay adjustments and job reclassifications that were implemented at the Public Employees Retirement,” Eichenberg wrote in a Jan. 24 letter to Balderas.

(Photo: Tim Eichenberg.)

Eichenberg's letter said that Propst had not sought board approval for the raises and promotions and that he believes that Propst violated state law in granting them.

“It is my concern that these actions are in direct violation of the New Mexico law governing PERA and the duties and responsibilities of the Board to set salaries which are paid out of the Trust Fund, NOT the State's General Fund,” Eichenberg's letter said.

The letter added: Mr. Propst acknowledged that he never sought Board approval for Executive staff no his own salary adjustments. In some cases, Mr. Probst sought only the Board Chair approval, and Mr. Propst also acknowledged that the Board never delegated such authority to the Chair.”

Eichenberg was first elected Treasurer in 2014 and is in his second term in office. He is no stranger to government. He was first elected to public office in 1974 as the Bernalillo County Treasurer, and served two terms in the state Senate. He was also served in the state's Taxation and Revenue Department during the administration of Gov. Bill Richardson.

Eichenberg knows his way around state government and the law, and is known for his integrity. It can't be a good thing for Propst when a respected state treasurer asks the AG's office to investigate you for “potential illegal pay adjustments.”

And as we reported earlier today, the trouble is deepening for Propst. On Tuesday, the PERA board voted to ask the AG's office to investigate Propst and the pay raises he has given to staffers. And the board also voted to strip Propst of his authority to give raises and promotions while the investigation is continuing.

And last month, state Auditor Brian Colón announced that his office was investigating the pay raises that Propst gave out.

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