Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes will walk away with almost $130,000 a year in pensions

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By Larry Barszewski

Published November 28, 2018


Almost $11,000 a month. That’s what Brenda Snipes will be receiving in pension benefits when she resigns in January as the Broward County Supervisor of Elections.

Snipes’s resignation came after she endured heavy criticism for Broward’s slow vote-counting after the Nov. 6 election and other issues that followed: 2,040 ballots went missing during the state-ordered recount; her office opened 205 provisional early-voting ballots before the county’s Canvassing Board determined their validity; and the county’s reporting of the machine recount missed the state deadline by two minutes. On top of that, the ballot her office designed may have led thousands of voters to miss the U.S. Senate election between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson because of its placement under a lengthy set of instructions.

“It really raises the question, on top of everything else, why she’s being excessively compensated for doing a poor job. That’s the added insult to injury,” said Dominic Calabro. He is president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, a nonprofit, nonpartisan government watchdog group based in Tallahassee that has been critical of the generous pension benefits elected officials receive.

“It just leaves additional salt in the wound,” Calabro said.

When Snipes walks away from her $178,865-a-year job, she’ll be eligible to collect almost $130,000 a year in state pensions for her combined 50 years as a public school educator and elected official.

Broward Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda C. Snipes waves goodbye to the media, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at the Broward Supervisor of Elections office in Lauderhill. Broward County reported their recount results with 52 minutes to spare Sunday. (My opinion: After creating havoc for nearly two weeks!)

She already earns $4,880 a month for her time as a teacher and school administrator. She has been receiving that pension in addition to her supervisor’s salary ever since she was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to the position in 2003. She has won election to the office four times since then.

Based on salary information and state retirement rules, the South Florida Sun Sentinel determined Snipes, 75, stands to add another $5,909 a month for her 15 years as supervisor, roughly $71,000 a year. State officials said they could not provide information on Snipes’ new pension because they had not calculated it and would not do so until requested by Snipes.

Snipes has not responded to emails requesting comment about her pensions. Eugene Pettis, an attorney who represented Snipes during the recent recounts, declined to comment.

Calabro said Snipes will also benefit from annual cost-of-living increases, averaging between 2 percent and 3 percent, that will add thousands of dollars to her pensions each year.

While Calabro knows the payments Snipes will receive are legal, he said such generous pension plans have all but disappeared for the average person working in the private sector.

“While she’s entitled to it, a lot of Floridians are resentful of it,” said Calabro, who has pushed for additional pension reforms. He said if the Legislature doesn’t come through, he expects petitioners will put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to end such payments to elected officials.

The average annual pension for elected officials in the state retirement plan in 2017 was $53,223.