BOSTON — Michael Mulhern, who’s stepping down from his six-figure salaried job as head of the secretive MBTA pension fund, will be collecting three taxpayer-funded retirement checks, FOX25 Investigates has uncovered.
Mulhern, who’s come under fire for lack of transparency at the MBTA Retirement Fund, already collects nearly $150,000 in retirement checks from the MBTA – in addition to his $282,000 salary as executive director for the T’s pension system.
Now, FOX25 Investigates has learned taxpayers have contributed more than $167,000 to a separate retirement fund set up for Mulhern during his time as the MBTA’s pension fund chief.
“Mike Mulhern has now officially become the poster child for the need for transparency,” said Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute. “What it says is that we don't have any information about how that pension system works. So, they can cut themselves deals – deals for themselves.”
Mulhern began collecting a nearly $65,000 annual pension check after he retired from the T at age 46. He also receives more than $84,000 a year directly from the MBTA as part of a special perk for union workers who become managers. Mulhern was a union track laborer before rising through the ranks and retiring from the top job of MBTA General Manager in 2005.
Mulhern last week abruptly announced he was resigning his MBTA Retirement Fund post as of Aug. 5.
“I would characterize it as saying that he was grossly overpaid and grossly underqualified for being the head of a $1.6 billion pension,” said Boston University finance professor Mark Williams about Mulhern. “His management over the last decade we’ve seen the pension value decline. We’ve seen returns decline.”
Taxpayers contributed $79 million to the MBTA pension fund this year and that annual payment is only expected to grow with the ballooning unfunded liability – which now stands at an estimated $868 million.
“The bigger the gap between the pension and the money that’s there and what’s owed, that has to be paid by taxpayers,” said Williams. “Taxpayers, in part, will have to pay the lion’s share of that.”
Mulhern declined an interview request through a spokesman.
In his June 6 resignation letter, Mulhern blamed scrutiny of the fund for his decision to step down, writing, “Particularly over the last year, the Fund’s staff has patiently and professionally endured unprecedented internal scrutiny and ill-informed public criticism.”
Cox Media Group