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Waste of the Day: ‘Middle-of-the-Road’ Pension Fund Manager Collects 8X Governor’s Pay

November 15, 2023

Wisconsin Pension Fund Manager Edwin Denson made $1.2 million last year, making him the highest-paid public employee in Wisconsin, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Denson’s salary is eight times the Wisconsin governor’s salary, The Journal reported. It’s over six times what Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators make, and three times what the President of the United States makes.

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Waste of the Day 11.15.23

Despite this extravagant compensation, the Journal called Wisconsin’s Pension Fund returns “middle-of-the-road,” with the fund ranking fifth out of 10 for large pension funds in five-year performance. It ranks 11 out of 25 for funds with the same fiscal year-end date.

Despite these mediocre returns, bonuses have ballooned for many Wisconsin pension fund empoyees. The Journal reports that the bonus pool has skyrocketed from $3 million in 2009 to $24 million in 2021. The average bonus in 2021 was $206,452. Since 2011, 97% of the investment board’s employees eligible for bonuses have received them every year.

Obviously, good investment managers can have lucrative careers in the private sector, so paying them well to invest smartly is not inherently wasteful. But employees making over $1 million should be held to the highest standards of delivering excellent returns year in and year out, a standard that Wisconsin’s pension managers haven’t cleared.

In New York, whose pension fund’s returns ranked second out of the 10 largest funds, the top investment officer made less than $500,000. In Wisconsin, 30 employees at the pension fund made more than $500,000.

Extravagant pay doesn’t guarantee superior returns, and Wisconsinites are right to question why they are paying lucrative salaries and bonuses to average investors.


The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.
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