Business & Real Estate

CalPERS board member stripped of leadership posts for campaign finance infractions

CalPERS punished one of its own Wednesday, stripping a prominent board member of her leadership positions because of her latest violations of the state’s campaign finance disclosure laws.

Priya Mathur, a board member since 2003, was removed as board vice president and chair of the CalPERS Pension and Health Benefits Committee. She also is out as vice chair of two committees: Board Governance and Performance, Compensation & Talent Management.

Mathur, who is facing a $4,000 fine from the state Fair Political Practices Commission, sat stoically as CalPERS board President Rob Feckner announced the punishment at a board meeting. She didn’t speak and wasn’t available for comment afterward.

Feckner also reprimanded another board member, J.J. Jelincic, over comments he made criticizing the appointment of the new CalPERS chief investment officer.

The FPPC is fining Mathur for failing to file four campaign finance statements in connection with her recent successful bid for re-election to the CalPERS board.

She had no campaign funds to report, and Mathur has previously described the issue as a paperwork snafu. Nonetheless, “we still believe that rules are rules,” Feckner said.

Mathur, a Bay Area Rapid Transit official, was recently re-elected to a four-year term. Feckner congratulated her on her re-election before announcing the punishment.

In 2010, Mathur was removed from a committee chairmanship and suspended from traveling on CalPERS business after an earlier run-in with the FPPC. She has been fined a total of $13,000 by the FPPC over the years, not counting the latest penalty, for late filing of campaign documents and conflict-of-interest statements. The FPPC is set to vote on the latest fine Thursday.

Board member George Diehr was named acting chair of the pension benefits committee in Mathur’s place. There was no immediate word on a new board vice president.

Jelincic, one of the most outspoken CalPERS board members, was chastised over statements to the media about Ted Eliopoulos, the newly appointed CalPERS chief investment officer. Jelincic told Pensions & Investments, a trade publication, that Eliopoulos “doesn’t have the temperament or the management skills” to be chief investment officer.

A CalPERS investment employee, Jelincic said he was told to recuse himself and didn’t vote on Eliopoulos’ appointment. Feckner said the other 11 board members voted unanimously to promote Eliopoulos, who ran CalPERS’ real estate investments for years and had been interim chief investment officer for about a year.

Feckner said Jelincic’s comments were “unfortunate and a breach of board governance policy of civility and courtesy.”

Jelincic, asked about the reprimand by a reporter, said, “I’m not sure what the hell it meant other than they didn’t want me talking to the press.” As for the statements he made about Eliopoulos, he added: “It was a comment on a public action.”

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

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