State must disclose retirees’ benefits
RENO (AP) – A state judge has ordered the Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada to disclose the names of all retired public employees in Nevada and the amount of their benefit.
The ruling Thursday by District Judge James Todd Russell in Carson City was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Reno Gazette-Journal. The newspaper earlier reported on the number of public employees who “double dip” by receiving state retirement as well as salary or contract payments from the state. The newspaper then sought a complete accounting of all retirees and benefits, but PERS rejected that request, prompting the suit.
In a hearing last week, a lawyer for the newspaper said while individual members’ files are confidential, the names of retired employees, their salary, retirement dates and benefit amounts are part of the public record.
“When you go to work in the public arena, when you’re paid by public money, the public has the right to know how much you’re receiving,” attorney Scott Glogovac said.
In his order, Russell said the purpose of the Nevada Public Records Act “is to ensure the accountability of the government to members of the public by facilitating public access to vital information about government activities.”
“Had the Legislature intended that the information requested by the RGJ in this matter be confidential, it would have so stated,” Russell said. “But it did not.”
The judge also challenged claims by PERS officials that producing the information would take an enormous amount of time and money. He agreed with Glogovac that the PERS system should have the ability to conduct database searches that can pull out the information sought by the newspaper.
Glogovac said newspaper executives will meet with PERS officials to discuss how to proceed.