AG is reviewing allegations against PERA's Wayne Propst
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said he is reviewing allegations that the executive director of the state's Public Employees Retirement Association, Wayne Propst, improperly gave himself and others at the agency raises and promotions over the past five years.
Balderas' office told ABQReport in an email that the AG is concerned about allegations against Propst made by state Treasurer Tim Eichenberg.
“I am concerned about 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,” Balderas said. “While this matter is currently under review, I urge the relevant governing bodies to work together to provide long term solutions to address this and all related solvency issues.”
Eichenberg stunned fellow PERA board members on Feb. 12 when he announced in a public board meeting that he had independently asked 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 Propst'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.
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. Propst sought only the Board Chair approval, and Mr. Propst also acknowledged that the Board never delegated such authority to the Chair.”
The trouble is deepening for Propst. On Tuesday, Feb. 12, 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.