CalPERS board member under scrutiny again for late financial reports

SACRAMENTO — A longtime board member of the country's largest public pension fund is in trouble again with California's political watchdog.

Priya Mathur, board vice president of the $288-billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, has a penchant for not filing timely reports to the Fair Political Practices Commission. And she failed again for 2012 and 2013.

Since she was first elected in 2002, Mathur, a financial analyst for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, has been fined $13,000 for five reporting violations. Colleagues publicly reprimanded her for some of the lapses in 2010.

On March 19, Mathur submitted reports for 2012 and 2013 after becoming aware of a pending FPPC investigation. Reports must be filed within 30 days of a semiannual deadline, and filing late is a violation of the Fair Political Practices Act, said Gary Winuk, the commission's top enforcer.

Mathur, who is running for a fourth term in a September mail election, blamed improperly filed paperwork for the problem. She said she brought her committee filings up to date after talking to the FPPC. "To the best of my knowledge, nothing remains outstanding," she said in a statement.

Jobs and money

Big Oil wants Californians to know just how big it is.

The Western States Petroleum Assn., a lobbying powerhouse in Sacramento, is set to release a study Tuesday with eye-opening numbers about the industry's financial contribution to the state's economy.

Compiled by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., the report says the oil and gas business accounted for nearly half a million direct and indirect jobs statewide in 2012. Production, refining and sales hit $113 billion, 5.4% of the value of all goods and services produced in the Golden State.

In the six-county Southern California sub-region, which includes Los Angeles County, the oil industry generated $46.6 billion in added value and 212,220 direct and indirect jobs, the report said.

"This study shows just how central of a role the industry plays in California's statewide and local economies," said association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd.

The findings are likely to get lawmakers' attention. Last year, the group ranked first in lobbying spending, $4.7 million, according official filings.

The timing of the report isn't accidental. Western States and its member oil companies are fighting legislation to put a moratorium on fracking, a controversial drilling practice that environmentalists oppose because it injects large amounts of acid, chemicals and water deep underground. Producers are also fighting a bill that would tax crude oil pumped from California wells.

Experts estimate that the state has an enormous quantity of oil trapped in shale deposits that could be recovered through fracking.

In the debate over health, safety and the economy, "health is the highest good there is," said Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) author of the moratorium bill, SB 1132. "The state's first responsibility is to do no harm, and fracking hasn't been proven harmless yet."


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