Coward and Hypocrite: PERA board member Patty French
Patty French, a board member of the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico, is a coward and a hypocrite.
First let's get to the cowardly part. On March 24, French wrote a letter to the New Mexico Attorney General's office saying that PERA Executive Director Wayne Propst and the agency's general counsel, Susan Pittard, deceived her in 2014 into giving them both raises without the approval of the agency's full board of directors.
In the letter, which ABQReport has read, French said she believes that the raises she approved for Propst and Pittard were illegal because they did not go before the full board. She also said in the letter that she was deceived into believing that she, as board chair, could approve the raises herself.
But French, who is an elected public official, has refused to make the letter public. She refused Saturday morning when I publicly asked her to during a meeting of the Retired Public Employees of New Mexico, a 5,000-member private nonprofit.
French responded with a simple "no" when I asked her if she would release the letter to me and about 60 RPENM members who were in the room. When I asked her why she wouldn't make the letter public, French didn't answer.
So why won't French make the letter public? Is she afraid of Propst and Pittard? Is she afraid that they will criticize and try to sanction her? Is she scared that they have ruined her reputation? Probably all three. But the real reason is that French is a coward, a coward who has no business holding public office.
Contrast her with state Treasurer Tim Eichenberg, who wrote a letter to the AG in February asking that he investigate Propst and the raises he has gotten for himself and has given out to PERA employees without board approval. Eichenberg announced during a PERA board meeting that he had sent the letter to the AG's office. That's how an elected public official should act: honestly, openly and without fear.
And on Friday, Eichenberg wrote an op-ed piece blasting Propst and some PERA board members for letting him get away with orchestrating his own raises. ABQReport published the letter, and the the Associated Press wrote a story about it. This morning, the Santa Fe New Mexican ran a front-page story about Eichenberg's article.
Again, an elected public official should be open and transparent. And if a public official believes he or she is witnessing corruption and illegality in government, they have a responsibility to make it public.
Not so, though, with coward Patty French.
At this morning's RPENM meeting, French, who is a member of the group's board of directors, complained publicly that the news media hasn't covered the recent controversy at PERA, which, you should know, manages a $15 billion fund for public retirees. French complained that everything at PERA is political, that Propst's wife was a cabinet secretary in Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration and that the news media just won't cover the alleged illegal activity at PERA.
She complained that the news media won't cover the story and then she refused to make public a bombshell letter in which she says she was deceived and that the raises she personally authorized were illegal.
Silly and cowardly Patty, how is the media supposed to report stuff that you refuse to make public? Are you capable of thinking logically? Or are you just ... scared.
I've heard that French has complained that her reputation has been ruined by Propst and other PERA board members and that she's scared that her reputation might be further damaged.
Well, here's some news for Member Patty:
In my mind you're a coward. And it isn't Propst or Pittard or the other board members who gave you that reputation.
Your actions, or non-actions did.
Patty, you branded yourself, and that brand reads: