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Waste of the Day: ‘Middle-of-the-Road’ Pension Fund Manager Collects 8X Governor’s Pay

Edwin Denson, manager of the Wisconsin pension fund, draws an annual salary of $1.2 million – eight times what the governor makes.

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Waste of the Day

Wisconsin Pension Fund Manager Edwin Denson made $1.2 million last year, making him the highest-paid public employee in Wisconsin, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Denson’s salary is eight times the Wisconsin governor’s salary, The Journal reported. It’s over six times what Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators make, and three times what the President of the United States makes.

Waste of the Day: ‘Middle-of-the-Road’ Wisconsin Pension Fund Manager Collects 8X Governor’s Pay
Waste of the Day 11.15.23 from Open the Books

Despite this extravagant compensation, the Journal called Wisconsin’s Pension Fund returns “middle-of-the-road,” with the fund ranking fifth out of 10 for large pension funds in five-year performance. It ranks 11 out of 25 for funds with the same fiscal year-end date.

Despite these mediocre returns, bonuses have ballooned for many Wisconsin pension fund empoyees. The Journal reports that the bonus pool has skyrocketed from $3 million in 2009 to $24 million in 2021. The average bonus in 2021 was $206,452. Since 2011, 97% of the investment board’s employees eligible for bonuses have received them every year.

Obviously, good investment managers can have lucrative careers in the private sector, so paying them well to invest smartly is not inherently wasteful. But employees making over $1 million should be held to the highest standards of delivering excellent returns year in and year out, a standard that Wisconsin’s pension managers haven’t cleared.

In New York, whose pension fund’s returns ranked second out of the 10 largest funds, the top investment officer made less than $500,000. In Wisconsin, 30 employees at the pension fund made more than $500,000.


Extravagant pay doesn’t guarantee superior returns, and Wisconsinites are right to question why they are paying lucrative salaries and bonuses to average investors.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.

Today, is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.

Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD.

Andrzejewski's federal oversight work was included in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. The budget cited his organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their report.

Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.

Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, Adam had nearly 20 million pageviews on 206 published investigations. In 2022, investigative fact-finding on Dr. Fauci's finances led to his cancellation at Forbes.

In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.

Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).

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