KY Retirement System Fires Executive Director

April 8, 2011 ( - The Kentucky Retirement Systems board of directors changed leadership, firing Executive Director Mike Burnside and electing Jennifer Elliott as chairman to replace longtime chairman Randy Overstreet.

KRS Christopher Tobe cited pending inquiries into KRS’ business activities by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and State Auditor Crit Luallen, and said “The majority of us thought it was time for a change.”

In addition, Attorney General Jack Conway ruled this week that KRS violated the Kentucky Open Records Act by refusing to divulge staff salaries to a state retiree who requested them (see Kentucky AG Orders Release of Retirement System Salaries). “It’s just the overall sense that there’s too much stuff going on here, and we need to go in a different direction,” Tobe said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Elliott said in a phone interview to the Louisville Courier-Journal that the board named Chief Operating Officer Bill Thielen as interim executive director, and will be naming an ad hoc committee of the board to work on finding a new candidate.  

Last August, an audit found that money managers doing business with the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) have paid almost $13 million since 2004 to placement agents (see KY Pension Officials Release Placement Agent Audit).  

According to the Courier-Journal, Tobe said Burnside had delayed providing important information to board members. For instance, he said Burnside knew in January 2010 of $15 million in fees paid to placement agents over six years but did not disclose that to the board until the following August.