In a vote of confidence for its embattled chief executive, the CalPERS Board of Administration on Tuesday awarded Marcie Frost a 4 percent raise and an $84,873 bonus.
Frost’s base pay now is $330,720.
Her annual performance review fell one month after the financial blog Naked Capitalism reported that a consultant-prepared report in Frost’s job application and subsequent CalPERS promotional materials included misleading information that suggested Frost was enrolled in a degree program at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
Frost had not taken classes at the school since 2010. She told The Sacramento Bee earlier this month that she described her educational goals to the headhunting firm CalPERS hired for its CEO search, which included completing a college degree.
CalPERS board member Margaret Brown has called for an investigation into Frost’s hiring. Brown was not on the board when Frost was hired in 2016. Members who were on the board at the time have said they were aware Frost did not have a degree when they hired her and did not ask her to obtain one.
Board member Bill Slaton said the board would not discuss Frost’s performance review at the public board meeting where it set her new salary.
“In closed session, we spent a long time reviewing all matters regarding Ms. Frost’s performance and now in open session we are convening in compliance with our policy regarding personnel matters to discuss compensation only,” he said.
Frost’s bonus is similar to the incentive pay she earned last year.
It’s lower than the bonuses her predecessor, Anne Stausboll earned from 2008 to 2016. Her bonuses ranged from $86,587 in 2010 to $131,044 in 2015, according to state salary records. Stausboll’s base pay peaked $322,400 in 2015.
California public employee unions and advocacy groups that represent cities and special districts declared their support for Frost since the report published challenging her qualifications.
“Marcie has been a great partner for public agencies,” said Dillon Gibbons, a lobbyist for the Special Districts Association.
To discipline Frost now, “you have to draw the conclusion that somebody on the board was misled, and to a person, everyone on the board said ‘No, we can read. We interviewed her. We knew she didn’t have a degree when she was hired. She was hired because of her expertise” leading Washington state’s public pension fund, said Terry Brennand, a senior lobbyist for Service Employees International Union who oversees public employee retirement issues.
But other retirees could push CalPERS for more answers. Although Frost did not claim to have a degree, news stories drawing attention to her education surprised retirees who expected her to have one.
“I think the whole situation is actually shameful on the part of the CalPERS board that they didn’t do more due diligence in going through the resume,” said Alan Derman, a retired Bay Area Rapid Transit District employee who is active in the Retired Public Employees Association. “In my opinion, she’s not qualified.”
James McRitchie, a former CalPERS board candidate who pays close attention to the fund, also considers the hiring consultant’s description of Frost’s eduction to be “disqualifiying” for her to keep her job.. “CalPERS will continue to take flak until CEO terminated,” he wrote on Twitter last week.