The board at Arizona’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System voted unanimously to oust its chief administrator Wednesday following a state investigation that found he allegedly sexually harassed and spied on employees.
The vote came after Smout had been placed on paid administrative leave in April. Arizona’s Department of Administration had received a letter in March about Smout’s behavior and had been investigating it since then, a July 15 letter to the board’s chairman showed.
“To be blunt, the behavior described in the Arizona Department of Administration investigation is in no way acceptable from any employee of PSPRS, let alone the system’s top executive,” said board chairman William Buividas in a statement. “Let me be as clear as I know how to be: We will not tolerate inappropriate workplace behavior.”
According to the letter, which summarized the investigation’s findings, Smout allegedly looked at and touched an employee “inappropriately,” and sent that employee inappropriate text messages.
He allegedly stared at an employee’s body in an “inappropriate manner” and allegedly explained this behavior by saying he “was a man,” the letter said.
The letter also shows that employees were concerned that Smout was working with the pension fund’s information technology team members to spy on employees he didn’t like. Smout allegedly told the investigators that he was concerned about employees’ privacy and the security of the retirement system’s computers and databases, but he ultimately did not hire a computer forensic expert.
According to the letter, Smout also allegedly admitted to investigators that he watched an employee on the PSPRS security cameras without that employee’s knowledge because he was attracted to that employee.
“Mr. Smout helped institute important changes during his tenure at PSPRS,” said Buividas in the statement. “Even so, the organization we’re aspiring to be must demand more of its leaders than doing good work ... With that in mind, this termination was a decision we could not in good conscience avoid.”
[II Deep Dive: Asset Management's Trillion-Dollar Time Bomb]
Bret Parke has been acting administrator for the retirement system since Smout was placed on leave, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday. It’s unclear at present whether the board has begun searching for a replacement for Smout.
When reached via a LinkedIn message on Thursday, Smout declined to comment.