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Appeals court says no to Treasurer Stapleton

The Colorado Court of Appeals Thursday rejected an attempt by state Treasurer Walker Stapleton to access individual information for some members of the Public Employees Retirement Association.

Stapleton, a Republican, is a vociferous critic of the current PERA structure. The state treasurer is automatically a member of the 16-member PERA board. First elected in 2010, Stapleton in 2011 asked the board for access to individual records (without names) of the top 20 percent of PERA retirees, based on pension amounts.

High-dollar pensions have been something of a fixation for GOP critics of PERA, even though the average monthly benefit paid by the system is $3,020. Most PERA members aren’t eligible for Social Security. The PERA system covers all Colorado teachers and many higher education employees.

The rest of the board rejected Stapleton’s request, and he sued. In April 2012 a Denver district judge ruled against Stapleton because state law requires that such information be kept confidential unless disclosing it would “solely” further the interests of PERA members and retirees.

The appeals court’s Thursday ruling said, “Because we conclude Stapleton is not entitled to unfettered access to the PERA records that he requested, we affirm” the district court decision. (Read the appeals court ruling here.)