State Treasurer Eileen Klein continues to collect a $250,000 a year salary and benefits from the Arizona Board of Regents, even as she is paid as state treasurer.
Klein, who in March announced she was stepping down as ABOR president, still receives the salary under a transition agreement in which she is responsible for managing the board’s daily office activities, but those duties are now performed by John Arnold, who on May 1 was named interim managing director.
Klein now holds the title of “President Emerita and Special Advisor to the Board.”
She continues to receive staff support from ABOR, and has “access to all necessary equipment and communication devices and tools” to continue any lingering work with the board through September 30, according to the transition agreement.
ABOR spokeswoman Sarah Harper said the arrangement helps as the board seeks a new president to replace Klein.
“This provides time for her transition from her role at ABOR and complete assignments while reducing the original term of the contract by several months,” Harper wrote in an email.
Dave Cherry, press secretary for the Treasurer’s Office, described the transition as standard practice for an organization like the Board of Regents.
“It’s not like Coach Graham at (Arizona State University) who’s now sitting on a beach somewhere, and it was a buyout and he’s still collecting his money,” he said. “This was an agreement reached to end a contract early with duties involved.”
Klein’s underlying contract would have kept her on staff as president through July 2019. Records obtained by the Arizona Capitol Times show that when Klein announced her early retirement from ABOR, the Regents agreed to continue paying Klein her $320,000 base annual salary and keep her on staff through September 30, providing a transition period.
That transition agreement was amended less than two weeks later on the heels of Klein’s appointment to the state Treasurer’s Office. The amended transition agreement, signed on April 17, still affords Klein pay and benefits through September 30.
However, it stipulates that she take annual leave for the entirety of that period to reflect her new salary as state treasurer.
That means Klein collects the difference between her $320,000 base salary from ABOR and her $70,000 annual salary as state treasurer: $250,000.
Her pay is then prorated for the period between April 17 and September 30, according to Harper.
That’s a monthly paycheck of $20,833.33 before taxes.
Klein’s salary from ABOR and as state treasurer are funded with public money. The Board of Regents approved the amended transition agreement on May 1.
Cherry said there was nothing obligating Klein to give up a portion of her salary from ABOR. Klein negotiated that her Board of Regents salary be reduced to reflect her pay as treasurer, he said.
“It wasn’t something that she needed to do, it wasn’t something that she was required to do, it wasn’t anything that would legally have induced her to do,” Cherry said. “She made a decision that she didn’t want to accept payment for both jobs at the same time.”
Klein and the Regents could have negotiated her contract to end even sooner in light of her appointment as treasurer. Her contract as president allowed Klein and the board to “terminate this contract without cause on mutually acceptable terms.”
Cherry said Klein already “left money on the table” when she negotiated an early exit from her contract with the Regents when she decided to retire, before the appointment as treasurer.
“She had the right to be paid all the way through (June) of 2019, and she negotiated with the Regents to get to September 30,” he said.