Politicians Cashing In

“I want to be buried in Hudson County so that I can remain active in politics.”
Governor Brendan T. Byrne

Governor Byrne began receiving a pension from the New Jersey Retirement System (NJRS) on April 1, 1984. He died on January 4, 2018 at age 93.

According a listing of retirees in the NJRS who had been New Jersey governor or whose last employer was either the Senate or the General Assembly* there are 302 politicians receiving total annual payouts of $5,479,150. As of June 1, 2018 Brendan Byrne is still one of them.

Currently we have these former governors receiving pensions:

  • Brendan Byrne (January 15, 1974 to January 19, 1982) – $35,827
  • Thomas Kean (January 19, 1982 to January 16, 1990 – $22,846
  • James Florio (January 16, 1990 to January 18, 1994) – $54,249
  • Christine Todd Whitman (January 18, 1994 to January 31, 2001) – $19,320
  • Donald DiFrancesco (January 31, 2001 to January 8, 2002) – $65,421
  • Bennett, John O. (January 8, 2002 – January 12, 2002) – $90,001
  • Jim McGreevey (January 15, 2002 to November 15, 2004) – $66,837

With these names that I recognize, including the first member of the $100k club, a current Senator, and at least two dead guys:



* Of course there are a lot more politicians in the NJRS at the local level and many who took other government jobs (ie. Florio; McGreevey) after their stint in office.

27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on August 18, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Why the dead guy ….what’s up with that ?


    • Posted by Tough Love on August 18, 2018 at 7:02 pm

      He is survived by his wife, the former Ruthi Zinn. Perhaps it’s a survivorship pension to his wife shown under his name.


      • Possibly, but it does read member pension on the listing and this second marriage was in 1994, 10 years after his pension started. NJ may allow a lot but replacing beneficiaries (assuming the form of benefit was even a J&100S to start with) seems a little too much.


        • Posted by Tough Love on August 18, 2018 at 7:48 pm

          Agreed ……….. If NJ allows replacing beneficiaries, they should all be jailed for violating ANY semblance of an obligation to NJ’s taxpayers.


          • Posted by Anonymous on August 18, 2018 at 8:01 pm

            If they allowed that the funds would have rundry by now. My GUESS is either accrued benefits payable to his trust (assuming he had one) OR he named his namesake son as beneficary. Either way it doesn’t explain why it’s showing as you noted, very strange indeed!

          • Pension law requires the spouse to be the beneficiary and, if another beneficiary is elected, the spouse has to agree to the change. Very unlikely that a trust would be named – no way to value it – and I doubt there is a life and 35-year-certain normal form in the plan. No form of benefit listed in the data but with Byrne retiring in 1984 it is very likely he chose his then-spouse as beneficiary (if he even chose a J&S reduction) and that spouse died in 1993.

            Unless someone out there has other information I will go with a mistake by the NJRS – which is troubling in that Byrne was as high profile as a NJ retiree gets. If they didn’t stop his benefit when they were supposed to how many other dead people are getting benefits?

          • Posted by Anonymous on August 18, 2018 at 8:42 pm

            FYI, I didn’t imply a trust could be a pension beneficary, but you can name a child with a corresponding reduction due to age difference. My trust reference related to benefits due the late Governor prior to his death, possibly uncashed checks – highly unlikely in the age of direct deposit.

      • Posted by marbs on August 19, 2018 at 9:22 am

        Gov Brendon Byrnes surviving widow is entitled to a survivorship pension.A child must be disabled to receive a survivors pension. Usually an updated spreadsheet will indicate it is a survivors pension but still under his/her name with an S after the name. It does take a while for the pension system to calculate benefits and change the spreadsheet etc. He only passed in 2018 the most up to date public information will only list checks payable to him,if he was issued a check in Feb 2018 it is payment for January 2018 and if received must be returned.Then new payments will be issued to the spouse.


        • Posted by Anonymous on August 19, 2018 at 10:14 am

          You don’t need to be a disabled child to be designated as a pension beneficary for PERS and TPAF. Public safety workers, you f killed in the line of duty, have survivors benefits for unmarried spouse and children (age requirements).


          • Posted by Marbs on August 20, 2018 at 10:45 pm

            I I was referring to governor Bytnes children they would all be grown now and they would have to be disabled to get any type of pension.

        • Posted by Anonymous on August 19, 2018 at 10:30 am

          Are Governor a special case??


  2. Posted by Anonymous on August 18, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Let’s ask his other son, the one that headed the former Governor’s P&B Commission!


  3. Posted by MICHAEL CLEARY on August 19, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Being a politician is not a career and therefore none of them should receive any type of pension


  4. Donald DiFrancesco (January 31, 2001 to January 8, 2002) – $65,421 [342 days]
    Bennett, John O. (January 8, 2002 – January 12, 2002) – $90,001 [4 days]
    Jim McGreevey (January 15, 2002 to November 15, 2004) – $66,837
    [2 yrs, 10 mo]
    These dates, especially the first two, cannot be correct.


    • Posted by boscoe on August 22, 2018 at 10:59 am

      This is a case of a little knowledge going way too far. Every one of these “examples” is misleading because their pension allowances are based on long-term credited service beyond the time they spent as “Governor.” DiFrancesco, Bennett and McGreevey were all in the Legislature for years. Byrne was a prosecutor. McGreevey was a mayor. I’m guessing that Lesniak, Bennett and maybe some others received PERS credit for being municipal attorneys before that scam was halted. I know it’s unfortunate, but simple displays, such as the one posted in this article, are just that — simple.


      • I agree, it’s far more complicated and instead of 300 politicians there are likely thousands who built up service time at relatively modest paying elected or appointed positions to cash in by getting into a high-paying job covered by PERS for three years or who went on build up service credits at Rutgers or Kean after they had the salary established (Florio, McGreevey).


  5. I don’t see anything egregious here, except for Bennett.

    A key figure is the number of years worked, relative to the number of years expected to live in retirement, on average. The big problem in government is too few of the former, and too many of the latter.

    Mostly the second. If this is your main career, and you work 25 years, and you go on work elsewhere, that’s fine. But a pension at 45 (NYC cops and firefighters) or 55 (NYC teachers) is only going to come at someone else’s expense.

    If you have someone who works a long time until they are very old in public service, they are going to get a big pension for a limited number of years. Not many people live as long as Byrne, if is his still alive.

    Still, come the revolution, every elected official who voted to retroactively increase or underfunded pensions ought to lose theirs.


    • Posted by Tough Love on August 21, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      “egregious” is the simple FACT that NJ’s non-safety-worker DB Pensions are ROUTINELY 2.5 times greater in value upon retirement than those of comparable Private Sector workers who retire at the SAME age, with the SAME service, and the SAME wages and with that 2.5 times rising to 4 times for Safety-workers with far richer pensions ………… and all while NOT the workers, but NJ’s Taxpayers are responsible for 80% to 90% of the total cost of these ludicrously excessive pensions.

      And who in the PRIVATE Sector get near-free retiree healthcare as do many of NY’s career retirees ?


      • Posted by Tough Love on August 21, 2018 at 7:54 pm

        NY should be NJ


        • Or maybe NJ should be NY…


          ” The Fund is the third-largest public pension fund in the country and is ranked one of the nation’s best-funded pension plans, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.”

          ” Solid returns in recent years have resulted in reductions in employer contributions.”


          • Posted by Tough Love on August 23, 2018 at 7:47 am

            Given the ludicrous generosity of NY’s Public Sector DB Plans …….. many even MORE ludicrously excessive than in NJ because they allow overtime to be included in pensionable compensation), all that the higher funding ratio for NY’s Plans shows, is that it’s Union-owned Legislature has been MORE successful in financially raping it’s Taxpayer to fund this unnecessary and abusive generosity.

      • Health care isn’t free. But in most developed countries, there is a nationwide plan for retirement income and health care. Generation Greed didn’t put enough in and takes too much out there too, but everyone is in the same boat.

        The U.S. has rejected the same deal for everyone, because it isn’t as much as some people believe they are entitled to. The public employee unions opposed Obamacare.


  6. […] New Jersey maintains a website that lists all retirees and, after downloading the data as of June 1, 2018, I found some familiar names from the world of New Jersey malfeasance. I am not saying these people are all felons and deserve to have their pensions taken away for what might be a good reason. Since there are so many retirees (338,522) and so many corrupt politicians (????) there may be honest people included only on account of their name. I leave it to others to decide how deserving these people are of a New Jersey pension. (Note that Brendan T. Bryne is not a felon. Rather he is dead.) […]


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