CalPERS officials are fined for not properly reporting gifts
Board members and officers of the nation’s largest pension fund, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, have been fined for not properly reporting gifts from investment firms.
The 16 fines, levied by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, were relatively small — from $200 to $3,600 — but they underscored that CalPERS remains embroiled in an influence-peddling and public-corruption scandal that began two years ago.
Most of the fines were for not disclosing, as required by law, the receipt of meals and gifts such as wine, sports event tickets, backpacks and computer flash drives.
Commissioner Ronald D. Rotunda called the gift violations “heinous” because the CalPERS officers were entrusted with investing the money of 1.3 million state workers, retirees and their families.
“You can just pay for your own baseball games or just don’t go,” Rotunda said.
The enforcement actions, he warned, put CalPERS management on notice that it needs to comply with all California ethics and financial disclosure laws.
The law requires that state employees who receive gifts worth more than a combined $50 from a single source in a year must report the gifts in an annual statement filed with the FPPC. The maximum total value of gifts allowed in a year from a single source is $420.
The best-known names on the fine list were CalPERS board President Rob Feckner and board member Louis F. Moret. Each was fined $400 for not reporting gifts of meals and drinks. The largest fine, $3,600, went to staff portfolio manager Shaun Greenwood for not disclosing 32 gifts.
Most of the gift-related information was provided to FPPC investigators by the pension fund’s staff at the request of CalPERS Chief Executive Anne Stausboll, the fund said.
The $221-billion pension fund has been dealing with the fallout from an ongoing probe by federal and state agencies into allegations that so-called placement agents — outside deal-makers who bring together private investment managers and CalPERS — were paid tens of millions of dollars in questionable fees.
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