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Wyoming State Treasurer

Personnel dispute leads to alleged threats, Meier denies allegations

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Read the incident report here.

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A dispute over personnel issues at the state treasurer’s office led to an allegation of threats being made in March by state Treasurer Curt Meier against employees in the state Human Resources Division, according to an incident report filed by Wyoming Highway Patrol officers.

However, Meier, in a news release issued Tuesday, denied making any threats and noted that the incident did not result in any charges being filed.

“Let me be clear, I unequivocally deny that I made any threat,” Meier said. “My conversations with Human Resources have always been professional and, in fact, I have never even visited HR since my election.”

The report also referred to an alleged dispute between Meier and state Auditor Kristi Racines while both were attending a meeting in the Jonah Business Center. Racines noted the report was more than a month old and said she and Meier get along well.

“I believe Treasurer Meier and I have a good working relationship,” she said Tuesday. “I have every confidence that we will continue to work well together in the future.”

According to the report filed by Trooper Erik Shoden and obtained by the Cowboy State Daily, he and one other Highway Patrol officer were called to the Emerson Building on March 21. The Emerson Building houses the state’s Department of Administration and Information, which is the parent agency for the state Human Resources Division.

According to the report, Anne McGee, manager of the Human Resources Division, told the officers that Meier threatened violence against the division that prompted the division to institute a “lock down.”

Human Resources employees said Meier and his office “had become increasingly agitated with employees leaving his office for employment opportunities at other state agencies, such as the governor’s office and state auditor.”

The employees said Meier was not happy that he could not easily reclassify existing positions within his department to provide higher salaries for his employees, the report said.

The report quoted employees as saying Meier was particularly unhappy with the departure of one employee who joined the state auditor’s office at a position two levels higher than what Meier could offer.

“Believing he was being treated unfairly by the Human Resources Department, he stated he had already verbally beat up the department, but now he was going to have to do it physically,” the report said.

The report was not clear as to whether the comment was made over the phone or in person. The comment prompted the lock down of the Human Resources Division.

The employees also told officers of Meier “aggressively cornering” Racines during their meeting at the Jonah Business Center to discuss her office’s hiring of one of Meier’s employees.

Russ Noel, deputy director of the Department of Administration and Information, was quoted in the report as saying he had spoken with Meier two days prior to the alleged incident.

“Noel … stated Treasurer Meier sounded very annoyed on the phone, but was not acting rude towards him,” the report said. “During the phone conversation, Meier was bothered he was not able to reclassify positions and hire people in a timely manner, hinting the Human Resources Department and subsequently A&I were not doing everything they could to help him with his staffing situation. He concluded by saying this (the issue) WILL get taken care of and this was the last straw.”

The report said no criminal violation was identified and the investigation was closed.

Meier’s office, in an email accompanying the news release, said there would be no further comments made by the treasurer about the incident.

Note: This story has been updated as of 7:40 PM, April 30, 2019.

Bonus plan for investment pros good way to build team, Meier says

in News/Taxes
Interview with Wyoming State Treasurer Curt Meier
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A plan to reward the state’s investment officials for good decisions will help the state build and maintain a team of skilled investment professionals, according to state Treasurer Curt Meier.

Meier, in an interview with Cowboy State Daily, said Friday the plan put forward by HB 222 would encourage smarter investments of state money, which in turn could help the state weather the fluctuations in energy prices.

“We need to attract and maintain a great team of investment people for the state of Wyoming,” he said. “If we can do our just to get (investment returns) to the median of what other states are doing, we can fix the budget crisis in our state.”

HB 222, which is awaiting the signature of Gov. Mark Gordon to become law, would reward investment professionals with a bonus equal to a percentage of their salaries if their investments exceed certain market benchmarks.

The bonus size would fluctuate based on the investment professional’s position. For instance, the state’s top investment officer, Patrick Fleming, could double his salary of $250,000 for good performance.

The bonuses would be paid out over three years to encourage investors to remain with the state. If they left state employment before the end of the three-year period, they would forfeit the remainder of their bonuses.

“We don’t want people to get into the hit and run attitude,” Meier said. You can have somebody … run way out on the risk cycle just to get his bonus and pick up his check and leave.” The arrangement will also help encourage investment officers to make prudent decisions so they are not fired, Meier said.

Good investment officers look not only at returns, Meier said, but the risks involved. For instance, he noted some corporation in recent years have been borrowing money so they could buy back their own stock.

“You have to figure out what those underlying things are that aren’t apparent to everyone,” he said. “You have to get the right people to do the right study, the right analysis. It’s not just the returns, it’s the risk-balanced returns.”

The bonus plan could eventually allow the state to reduce the fees it pays to investment firms, now estimated at $60 million to $80 million a year, Meier said, by increasing the number of talented investment professionals inside the state.

“We’re probably in the bottom 2 percent of what people are paid (nationally),” he said. “That’s why we’re trying to build the team with in-state people. We’re trying to grow our own here. Because it’s har to get somebody from outside who doesn’t like the bright lights and big city.”

Performance bill proposes bonuses for investment professionals

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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would reward the state’s investment professionals for making investment choices that perform better than the markets generally could increase the salaries of those professionals by up to 100 percent.

HB 222 would provide bonuses for investment professionals only if the performances of the investments they are managing exceed benchmarks set by certain segments of the stock and bond market, such as the Standard and Poors 500 or the Russell 3000 small stock index.

The amount of the bonus would vary according to the professional’s position. For instance, Patrick Fleming, the state’s chief investment officer, could double his $250,000 salary, while the bonus for a state senior investment officer, who makes $150,000, would be 75 percent of his salary. The bonus for an investment officer would be 50 percent of the officer’s salary.

However, the bonus would be paid out over three years, with 50 percent being paid out in the third year. If an employee left the state during that time, any part of the bonus not collected would be lost.

The bill is waiting for its first review in the Senate.

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