The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 11, 2013
Judge: Federal prison receiver can get California state pension

130911-Kelso-2008.jpgA Sacramento judge has ruled that California's Prisons Receiver J. Clark Kelso qualifies for a state pension, even though his position as the penal system's medical overseer was established by federal appointment.

The decision by Judge Michael Kenny sides with CalPERS, which said it had vetted an unusual deal between the federal judge who appointed Kelso and the state Administrative Office of the Courts that allowed him to stay in the state pension system. In essence, Kelso is working as a state-courts employee on loan to the federally established California Prison Healthcare Receivership Corp. charged with overseeing the medical care of inmates.

Before Kelso took the receiver job, he held several leadership positions in state government, with years of contributions built up in his CalPERS pension account.

Daniel Francis, a retired state employee, sued CalPERS, arguing that Kelso was really a federal employee and that payments to his state pension account amounted to a gift of public funds.

Kenny said that Francis failed to prove that CalPERS' determination of Kelso's employment status was wrong.

Lawsuit claims prison receiver spiking CalPERS pension
Judge: Lawsuit against CalPERS over California prison receiver pension may proceed

PHOTO: Federal Prisons Receiver J. Clark Kelso takes questions during a 2008 news conference. The Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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