Monday, October 10, 2011

Sacramento Bee: Governor signs one pension bill, vetoes another

Gov. Jerry Brown signs one pension fund bill, vetoes another

Published: Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 4A
Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed one bill intended to strengthen government ethics and vetoed another.
The governor signed Assembly Bill 873, which extends how long former board members and some employees at the state's two largest public pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, must wait to lobby the state for business. The toughest provision puts a 10-year moratorium on high-level officials accepting compensation as so-called "placement agents" who do business with CalPERS or CalSTRS.

Placement agents act as well-connected middlemen who earn fees by putting pension funds in touch with businesses seeking investments. A former CalPERS board member acting as a placement agent is at the center of an ongoing influence-peddling investigation.

"I note that what's good for the goose should be good for the gander," Brown wrote in his signing message, a thinly veiled reference to the one-year limit on former legislators before they can lobby.

Brown vetoed Senate Bill 439, which would have prohibited board members and executives at the pension funds from accepting gifts in excess of $50 per year from anyone doing business with CalPERS or CalSTRS.

Current law sets the limit at $420 per year.

The measure, Brown said, would "create a special set of rules that will apply exclusively to CalPERS and CalSTRS" and complicate an already complex reporting system without much benefit to government transparency.

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