POLITICS

Texas judge: Ex-lawmakers’ pensions will stay private

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

A Texas judge ruled Tuesday the pensions of former lawmakers will remain secret, saying she does not have jurisdiction over what the state’s Employees Retirement System makes public.

The ruling by Texas District Judge Lora Livingston came in a lawsuit filed by Texans for Public Justice, which sued in October 2012 to make the aggregate state-funded pensions of 103 former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists public.

“We’re very disappointed in the ruling,” said TPJ Director Craig McDonald on Wednesday.

Legislators over the last decade have crafted the laws protecting their pension information in such a way that the court cannot force ERS to reveal that data, he explained.

“The law was written so tightly by lawmakers to protect the public from looking at their pensions, even in the aggregate,” Mr. McDonald said.

TPJ filed the lawsuit in October 2012, after its Texas Public Information Act requesting the total amount spent on the 103 pensions was denied.

“The public pays a great deal into these payments,” Mr. McDonald said. “We just thought the public had a right to know.”

Public pensions became a topic of scrutiny in Texas last year when a Federal Elections Commission filing revealed Gov. Rick Perry was receiving a state pension of at least $92,000 a year along with his $150,000 yearly salary as governor, according to Texas Watchdog.

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