CT Town with Madoff Losses Debates Pension Appointment

January 23, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Recently stung by word their town public pension lost $42 million in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, local lawmakers in a Connecticut town are now embroiled in a controversy over a new pension board appointment.

A Connecticut Post news account said the debate among the Fairfield   Board of Selectmen centers on the appointment of Frederick F. Schaefer, a longtime Democrat who switched party affiliation last week so he would be eligible to fill the vacant pension board seat.

One town official complained that the circumstances of the Schafer appointment affect the credibility of making the move in the first place.

“This is a troubled board,” said Selectman Ralph Bowley, according to the Post account. “On this board, we need people who are transparent in everything they do.”

Bowley continued: “You can understand where I’m coming from.   I do agree the resume looks very, very good; that’s not my problem. We don’t need anything that’s going to taint this board.”

Schaefer, 57, was ultimately appointed to the Police and Fire Retirement Board by a 2-1 vote, according to the newspaper.

In 1995, Schaefer registered as a Democrat, but last Friday switched his registration to an unaffiliated voter. The selectmen appoint three members to the police and fire board; two of those appointments are Democrats, so the third — replacing Republican Geoffrey Mullen — had to be another Republican or an unaffiliated voter.

Schaefer is a client portfolio manager in U.S. equities for Schroders Investment Management in New York, a position he’s held since 2007.

Town officials have vowed to pursue every available legal recourse over the Madoff losses (See  Fairfield Pension Pursuing Criminal Charges Over Madoff Loss ).