The embattled director of the Municipal Employee Retirement System resigned Thursday morning, according to multiple news stations.
Robert Rust was expected to appear before a meeting Thursday afternoon where he would publicly answer questions about allegations of excessive public spending for meals and out-of-state trips, detailed in May in a WVUE report.
The meeting is still scheduled for 2 p.m. at the State Capitol in House Committee Room 1.
Earlier this month the MERS board placed Rust on administrative leave after learning he had taken public records home and possibly altered a recept related to an investigation into his spending habits.
Rust has previously denied wrong doing.
In a previous letter to board members, Rust said most of the spending described in the report did not come from MERS assets, taxpayers dollars or MERS membership contributions. Instead, it came from “sponsorship fees paid by investment companies or service providers,” he wrote.
The TV news report found that Rust had frequently spent upward of a $1,000 on meals expensed to the agency. The TV station reported that Rust spent $1,547 on Sept. 15, 2013, at Palace Cafe that included two bottles of wine, seven additional glasses of wine and 23 mixed drinks.
The television report also found Rust spent $2,900 in 2012 at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Baton Rouge, including $717 for drinks. The year before, the restaurant expense topped $3,000.
The report also found that in 2011, Rust was reimbursed for the cost of two trips to the beach described as planning excursions for a training conference.
The conference was located in Point Clear, Alabama. But Rust’s trips to plan the conference were in Sandestin, Florida, more than 100 miles away. He spent almost $3,000 for those two combined planning trips to the beach on hotels, rental cars and meals. These expenditures appeared on receipts for Rust’s public credit card.
MERS is the retirement system for about 150 municipal government employers across the state. Locally, cities like Denham Springs, Baker, St. Francisville and Zachary use MERS to provide city employees retirement benefits.