The board of directors of the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association has come into conflict again.
In the most recent example of a board of directors plagued by internal power struggles, acting chairman Francis Page set up an ad hoc committee to investigate a board member who Page said he had sent a letter to lawmakers alleging criminal behavior.
“The matter is in the hands of the ad hoc committee and as this is an active investigation I do not want to comment further,” he wrote in an email on Friday.
It is about a letter that board member Loretta Naranjo-Lopez wrote to the Legislative Investment and Pensions Supervisory Committee. Page declined to provide a copy of the letter, but stated in its statement that the letter contained “serious allegations of criminal misconduct by state officials, PERA board members and PERA employees.”
“Among other questionable conduct by this member in the past,” the letter from Naranjo-Lopez “questions whether this member is fulfilling his fiduciary duties as a director or violating the directives of the board or otherwise falling below the high ethical standard of this directive” . Board expected from its members, ”he wrote.
The investigation comes amid renewed calls for a change in the governance structure of PERA, an 18 billion dollar state pension fund with 90,000 active and retired members. Proponents of such a move have called for a change in the composition of the 12-member board, all but two of which are elected. As it is now, no investment or other experience is required to serve on the board.
Page instructed the ad hoc committee, chaired by board member Claudia Armijo, to prepare a report within 90 days recommending what action the board should take, if any.
Recommendations could include 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 for a comment.