Gov. Matt Bevin has removed the chairman of the Kentucky Retirement Systems board of trustees, which oversees about $16 billion in assets for the pension and insurance benefits of state and local government retirees.
Thomas K. Elliott, a senior vice president at Old National Bank in Louisville, was reappointed last year by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to a four-year term. However, Bevin, a Republican, issued an executive order citing a state law that suggests that a governor can revoke any gubernatorial appointment for any reason at any time, exempting university boards, the Council on Postsecondary Education and the state Board of Education.
“KRS needs a fresh start and more transparency,” Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said late Wednesday when asked about Elliott’s removal.
Beshear used the same law a number of times during his tenure to remove his predecessor’s appointees, Ditto said.
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“There is binding precedent from Kentucky’s Supreme Court, as well as an opinion from a former Democratic attorney general, that the governor has this authority to remove members of a commission whose terms have not expired,” Ditto said.
Elliott could not be reached for comment late Wednesday. Beshear appointed him to the KRS board in 2011.
KRS and the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System have a cumulative $36 billion shortfall in assets that they expect to need to cover future benefits. Bevin has made stabilizing the pension funds his top priority.
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