Legislators Question Private Lawyer Fees Paid By State Fund

New Mexico – Members of the Legislative Finance Committee say the Legislature should limit the fees paid for private lawyers to defend pension or investment board members who are sued.

The issue surfaced at a committee meeting Thursday because of a policy recently approved by the Educational Retirement Board, which wants to set aside $1.5 million out of the pension fund for legal costs of current and former board members.

Bruce Malott, the pension board chairman, plans to seek reimbursement for hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses he's incurred for a private lawyer to represent him in pending federal investigations and lawsuits that allege political considerations influenced investment decisions.

A state-paid lawyer also is defending Malott in the lawsuits.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.