Today's Paper Search Latest Core values App In the news Traffic #Gazette200 Listen Digital FAQ Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles/Games Archive
story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan is shown in this file photo.

State Treasurer Dennis Milligan has hired a former investment analyst and strategist for the Arizona state treasury as his office's senior investment manager, his spokeswoman said this week.

The new employee will be paid $119,900 a year and start July 22.

Milligan also has declined to grant a pay raise in fiscal 2020 -- which started July 1 -- to his office's director of investments, former Rep. Ed Garner, R-Maumelle. Garner's salary is $108,000 a year, according to treasurer's office records.

Meanwhile, at least two state lawmakers are questioning Milligan's decisions about raises for other employees in this fiscal year.

The office's new senior investment manager, Martin J. Kelly, has been a risk-management consultant for Fiserv in Phoenix since June 2015 and a senior partner at Crow Partners LLC of Philadelphia and Phoenix since 2006. Kelly worked for the Arizona treasury from August 2012 through January 2015, according to his resume. He also worked stints for GMAC Corp.; Federal Home Loan Bank in Des Moines, Iowa; and AGAmerica/Western Farm Credit Banks in Sacramento, Calif., between 1997 and 2007.

"The fact that Mr. Kelly has prior experience in a state treasurer's office, helping to manage a $12 billion investment portfolio, along with his private sector portfolio management experience, was the leading factor in determining him as the lead candidate for the senior investment manager position," Milligan spokesman Stacy Peterson said in a written statement this week.

"Treasurer Milligan felt that such a similar work environment, coupled with his proficiency in risk management, would be an invaluable asset to our growing investment team," she said. Twenty-six people applied for the job, but only 10 were deemed qualified and eight were interviewed, she said.

Earlier this year, the Legislature authorized the treasurer's office to create the post called director of investments -- the position that Garner now holds -- with a maximum-authorized salary of up to $141,856. Lawmakers also increased the maximum salary for the senior investment manager post from $108,581 to up to $120,000 in fiscal 2020.

In March, Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, praised Garner, noting the treasury's increased investment earnings.

"With the performance that you had with basically one person that is charged with doing that trading, in the private sector they would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars ... because they absolutely have been a blessing to your office and to the state of Arkansas," Rapert said then.

Peterson declined to explain why Milligan has balked at granting a pay raise to Garner. Garner on Thursday declined to comment.

Garner has worked for the treasurer's office since 2015. He owned a bakery; served in the state House from 2007-13; and was an investment banker for T.J. Raney & Sons from 1980-84, Lasater & Co. from 1984-87 and Stephens Inc. from 1987-95, according to state records.

Asked whether Garner would supervise Kelly, Peterson said Thursday, "They will both work alongside each other and report directly to Jason Brady, the chief deputy treasurer who is in charge of the investment arm of the treasury."

Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron, said the Legislature's intent was for the employees in the treasurer's investment division to get pay raises this fiscal year because "we felt they deserved an increase" with the improved investment earnings since Milligan took office in January 2015.

But most of the division employees didn't get raises.

Meanwhile, "Milligan's underlings" each received pay raises and "that wasn't the Legislature's intent," Rice said. Rice said he was referring to Brady; Grant Wallace, another chief deputy treasurer; and chief legal counsel T.J. Fowler.

Brady's and Wallace's salaries rose from $104,500 to $109,749 a year, while Fowler's pay increased from $96,999 to $102,000, according to the office's records.

In response to Rice's remarks, Milligan said Thursday in a written statement, "I wish that Sen. Rice would have visited with me first. There are several factors that determine which employees receive raises and when those occur. I stand by my evaluation of my team, and would be more than willing to visit with Sen. Rice or anyone else and enlighten them as to my management decisions," said Milligan, a Republican from Benton.

Rice served in the House from 2009 through 2013 with Garner.

The treasurer's office records show that one employee in the four-employee investment division -- information-technology manager Damon Dortch -- received a raise in pay from $75,999 to $78,399 this fiscal year.

Besides Garner, those who didn't receive raises were investment manager Celeste Gladden, whose salary is $64,499 a year; and the state Board of Finance's chief compliance officer, Autumn Sanson, whose salary is $93,785, according to the treasurer's records.

"We are awaiting the reorganization of the investment team prior to making a determination" regarding a pay raise for Gladden, Peterson said.

As far as Sanson, Peterson said, "Her position falls under the purview of the state Board of Finance."

State Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said finance board Chairman Larry Walther, who also is the secretary of the finance department, indicated "a determination has not been made" about a pay raise for Sanson.

"This will be considered by the Board at the next meeting (August 6)," Hardin said in a written statement.

Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, said in an interview that Milligan has done a good job boosting investment earnings.

"I think he deserves credit for that," Hammer said. "But I also know it is a team effort and all of the team need to be rewarded accordingly," he said.

Hammer served in the House from 2011-19 and served in the chamber with Garner from 2011-13.

Twenty of the treasurer's office employees received raises, while 11 others haven't this fiscal year, according to Peterson.

She declined to explain why some received raises and others didn't.

"It is personnel stuff we are not going to comment on," Peterson said.

Peterson received the largest pay raise in the office this fiscal year, from $53,599 to $72,750, according to the office's records.

Earlier this year, the Legislature approved creating a new communications director position, which Peterson now holds, with a maximum-authorized salary of up to $73,872 in fiscal 2020.

In November's budget hearings in advance of the regular session, Wallace told lawmakers that Peterson was underpaid compared with people in similar positions in state government. He said the proposed salary increase approved by lawmakers didn't guarantee her pay would go up that much.

Metro on 07/12/2019

Print Headline: Investments of state to get new manager


Sponsor Content