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Watchdog to weigh quadrupling of fine against CalPERS board member

Watchdog to weigh quadrupling of fine against CalPERS board member
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 if the Fair Political Practices Commission approves it at an Oct. 16 meeting. (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 that was agreed upon by enforcement staff and Mathur.

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

Mathur, 40, has agreed to pay the new, higher $4,000 fine if the commission approves it at an Oct. 16 meeting. She is the principal financial analyst at the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, where she is paid about $101,000 a year.

Members of local government agencies in the California Public Employees' Retirement System last week reelected Mathur to a fourth, four-year term on the 13-member Board of Administration, which oversees a $300-billion portfolio that provides retirement and health benefits for 1.6 million state and local government workers, retirees and their families.

Mathur, a San Francisco resident, chairs the board's Pension and Health Benefits Committee and is active in the international responsible-investment movement, serving on a United Nations-backed advisory committee and on an advisory council for a nonprofit group that helps women entrepreneurs. She has a master's of business administration degree from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and a bachelor's in economics from Connecticut College.

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 that they violated the law by not filing four semiannual finance statements with the Secretary of State's office in 2012 and 2013 "despite numerous requests from the enforcement division," the FPPC said in the proposed agreement.

"Failing to file a campaign statement is a serious violation of the [Fair Political Practices] Act because it deprives the public of important information about a candidate's financial activities," the FPPC said in its filing.

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 FPPC, Mathur's 2012 and 2013 reports, when eventually submitted, showed that she and her campaign committee "did not have any reportable financial activity during those four reporting periods."

Mathur has filed her report for the first half of 2014, the FPPC said.

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

Her board colleagues subsequently censured Mathur, temporarily stripping her of the health committee chairmanship and briefly suspending her travel privileges.

Twitter: @MarcLifsher

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