The board of the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association is in conflict once again.
In the latest example of a board beset by infighting, acting board Chairman Francis Page has appointed an ad hoc committee to investigate a board member who sent a letter to lawmakers alleging criminal conduct, according to a statement from Page.
“The matter is in the hands of the Ad Hoc Committee and since it is an active investigation, I do not wish to comment further,” he wrote in an email Friday.
At issue is a letter board member Loretta Naranjo-Lopez wrote to the Legislature’s Investments and Pensions Oversight Committee. Page declined to provide a copy of the letter but wrote in his statement the letter contained “serious allegations of criminal misconduct by state officials, PERA board members and PERA staff.”
“In addition to other questionable conduct by this member in the past,” Naranjo-Lopez’s letter “calls into question whether this member is fulfilling her fiduciary duties as a Board Member or is violating Board policies, or otherwise falling below the high ethical standard this Board expects of its members,” he wrote.
The investigation comes amid renewed calls to change the governance structure of PERA, an $18 billion state pension fund with 90,000 active and retired members. Proponents of such a move have called for changing the composition of the 12-member board, all but two of whom are elected. As it is now, no investment or other experience is required to serve on the board.
Page directed the ad hoc committee, which will be chaired by board member Claudia Armijo, to issue a report within 90 days with a recommendation of what action, if any, the board should take.
Recommendations could include taking no further action, hiring an outside independent investigator for additional fact-finding and sanctions against Naranjo-Lopez, including removal from the board, Page wrote.
Naranjo-Lopez did not return a message seeking comment.