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Candidates running for spots on the boards of California's two largest public employee pension funds would be required to complete and publicly file more detailed campaign finance information under a bill introduced in the Senate today.

Senate Bill 1007, by Democratic Sen. Loni Hancock of Berkeley, would require candidates for board seats with the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System to file ongoing campaign contribution and spending reports during and after an election.

The bill would make pension-fund board candidates comply with reporting rules that already exist for other elected officials in the state, Hancock said.

Hancock said in a news release that recent reports about the influence that pension fund placement agents may have had on CalPERS investment decisions -- and the decline in value of the CalPERS investment portfolio -- have "raised serious questions about the possibility of outside influence on investment decisions."

"It is essential that we insure there is complete transparency and accountability in how CalPERS and CalSTRS candidates raise campaign funds and what they do with the money," Hancock added.

The Bee reported last summer that CalPERS board member Charles Valdes was not required to report publicly what he had done with more than $30,000 in campaign contributions that he had raised after his 2005 election win.

Valdes received the money from people closely linked to a pension fund placement agent Al Villalobos, who is under investigation in several states and by an outside law firm CalPERS hired after officials there discovered he'd made about $60 million from CalPERS deals. Valdes retired from his board position in January.

Under current law, CalSTRS has no campaign filing requirements.

CalPERS board candidates are now required to file reports during the campaign and once more afterwards. After the last filing, no further reports are required unless the candidate runs again. How they spend any leftover money is a mystery.

Controller John Chiang is sponsoring the bill.

"Requiring public pension board members to abide by the same campaign disclosure requirements as all other elected state officials will give state retirees, employees and the public more confidence in the way public pension funds are invested and spent," Chiang said in the news release.



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