Politics & Government

CalPERS board member likely facing stiffer fine from FPPC

CalPERS board member Priya Mathur is likely facing a stiffer penalty than previously expected from the state’s political watchdog agency for failing to file her campaign finance statements on time.

Mathur, the pension fund’s vice president, had agreed to a $1,000 fine with the staff of the state Fair Political Practices Commission. But the commissioners refused to accept the fine Thursday, arguing that Mathur should get a higher penalty because she had been fined several times before by the FPPC.

Gary Winuk, the agency’s chief of enforcement, said commissioners sent the case back to the FPPC’s staff and suggested the fine be increased to $4,000.

“Given her history ... they felt it warranted a higher penalty,” he said. He said the matter could be brought back to the commission next month.

The FPPC has already fined Mathur a total of $13,000 for earlier transgressions, including late filing of campaign documents and her conflict-of-interest statements. The most recent fine came in 2010, prompting the CalPERS board to punish her by removing her as chair of the health benefits committee and suspending her from traveling on pension fund business.

In the latest case, Mathur was late filing four campaign finance statements in connection with her re-election bid. Mathur told The Sacramento Bee last week that the late filing was the result of a paperwork mix-up. Voting in the election takes place by mail starting next week.

The FPPC staff, in its report to the commissioners, said it took “numerous requests” from investigators to get Mathur to finally file the documents. That conduct played a role in the commissioners’ desire for a stronger penalty, Winuk said.

Mathur, a Bay Area Rapid Transit official who joined the CalPERS board, couldn’t be reached for comment. Officials with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System declined to comment.