State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg and two other trustees who help oversee a large state pension fund for public employees filed an ethics complaint against the state’s retirement system director, Wayne Propst, alleging “deceit and misrepresentation,” according to a statement released Monday by the State Treasurer’s Office.
The complaint alleges Propst violated the Governmental Conduct Act by providing misleading or false information to members of the Public Employees Retirement System board about the nature of legislation signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The law was aimed at making the state pension system solvent, and did so in part by altering annual cost-of-living increases for public retirees.
According to the complaint, Propst misrepresented to PERA board trustees the changes the legislation would make to retiree cost of living adjustments. Propst told trustees during a meeting that “the profit-share portion” of that system is “compounding,” to help win the endorsement of board members, a statement from Eichenberg’s office said.
Eichenberg’s office referred to Propst’s explanations of the legislation as “deception” and “deceit.”
PERA administers and manages pensions for tens of thousands of public employees and retirees.
Compounding cost-of-living increases for retirees had been in place “for decades,” according to the state Treasurer’s Office. The bill ultimately passed with a provision that replaced that system for new profit-share model that included compounding increases.
Propst dismissed the complaint.
“The complaint is frivolous, and I am confident the State Ethics Commission will find there is no basis for it, just as the New Mexico Attorney General and State Auditor both concluded only last year that the same individuals made other unfounded allegations against me and PERA staff,” Propst wrote in an email.
John Melia, chairman of the PERA Board of Trustees, did not respond to an inquiry regarding the ethics complaint.
Submitted to the state Ethics Commission this month, the complaint is signed by Eichenberg and PERA board trustees Claudia Armijo and Patricia French. Eichenberg is an ex officio member of the PERA board.
The Ethics Commission sent a copy of the complaint to Propst, seeking a response within 15 days.