Pension Managers Among Top-Paid State Workers
January 29, 2014 | By Emily Gersema | email
The state’s 10 highest-paid agency employees work for a public pension fund that is reportedly under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, new records show.
The highest-paid state employee in the Arizona Department of Administration’s database is the chief investment officer for Arizona PSPRS, Ryan Parham, who earns $254,000 a year – more than double Gov. Jan Brewer’s $95,000 annual salary. The third-highest paid employee is the retirement agency’s chief administrator, James Hacking, who earns $234,000 a year.
The Goldwater Institute obtained the salary information for 38,884 state employees last week through a public records request to the Arizona Department of Administration. The department’s database excludes state university employee salary information, which is maintained separately by the Arizona Board of Regents.
The Arizona Republic reported last week that the FBI has interviewed former employees of Arizona PSPRS, the investment trust which finances pensions for more than 52,000 workers, including police and fire department employees statewide, elected officials and state corrections officers. Separately, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is conducting a grand jury investigation of the agency’s real-estate investments.
The database shows the second-highest-paid state employee is Dr. Lauren Bonner, who earns $240,000 a year as a psychiatric medical administrator for the Arizona Department of Health Service’s Division of Behavioral Health Services. She had been the chief medical officer for the agency, which is under scrutiny for reports of violent patient incidents and escapes from the state mental hospital.
Other top earners in the database work for the state’s health care system for the poor and the Arizona State Retirement System, which invests retirement savings for more than 400,000 state employees, including university employees.
“This revelation just goes to show that taxpayers and employees are at the mercy of state pension systems and the people who run them,” said Byron Schlomach, director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity. “This is obviously an abuse that deserves addressing.”
Emily Gersema is an investigative reporter for the Goldwater Institute.