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Ethics watchdog agency to weigh fine for CalPERS board vice president

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CalPERS board Vice President Priya Mathur, above in 2009, has agreed to pay a $4,000 fine for failing to file timely campaign finance reports for 2012 and 2013 if the Fair Political Practices Commission approves it.
(Robert Durell / For The Times)

California’s political watchdog agency will consider quadrupling a fine against newly reelected CalPERS board Vice President Priya Mathur for failing to file timely campaign finance reports for 2012 and 2013.

The proposed penalty follows a decision by the Fair Political Practices Commission in August to reject a $1,000 fine agreed upon by the agency’s enforcement staff and Mathur.

Commissioners complained that she should have been punished more severely because of earlier reporting violations in 2002, 2007 and 2008.

Mathur, 40, the principal financial consultant at the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, has agreed to pay the new, higher $4,000 fine if the commission approves it at an Oct. 16 meeting.

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Last week, CalPERS announced that Mathur was reelected to a fourth four-year term on the board of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s biggest retirement system with about $300 billion in assets.

She represents public agency members on the 13-person CalPERS Board of Administration and received 56% of about 16,600 votes cast in a mail-in election. As a board member, Mathur oversees a market-moving investment portfolio that provides retirement and health benefits for 1.6 million state and local government workers, retirees and their families.

Mathur has signed a proposed legal stipulation with Fair Political Practices Commission enforcement staff and waived an administrative hearing and other procedural rights. Mathur and her campaign committee conceded they violated the law by not filing four semi-annual finance statements with the Secretary of State’s office in 2012 and 2013 “despite numerous requests from the enforcement division,” the Fair Political Practices Commission said in the proposed agreement.

“Failing to file a campaign statement is a serious violation of the Act because it deprives the public of important information about a candidate’s financial activities,” the agency said in its filing.

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Mathur did not respond to requests for comment. However, in an August email she described the missed reports as an oversight. “I had inadvertently failed to file the proper forms in 2012 to close my campaign committee,” she said.

A spokesman for CalPERS declined to comment on Mathur’s proposed fine.

According to the Fair Political Practices Commission, Mathur’s 2012 and 2013 statements, when eventually submitted, showed that she and her campaign committee “did not have any reportable financial activity during those four reporting periods.”

Mathur’s proposed fine is just the latest penalty levied against her by the Fair Political Practices Commission. She paid $6,000 in April 2006 for campaign finance violations and a combined $7,000 in April and May 2010 for not filing statements of economic interest.

Twitter: @MarcLifsher


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