The State Worker

California retirees voted in an expensive election at CalPERS. Here’s who won

The CalPERS building in downtown Sacramento.
The CalPERS building in downtown Sacramento. Sacramento Bee file

Henry Jones will keep his seat on the CalPERS Board of Administration after defeating challenger J.J. Jelincic in an election that saw hundreds of thousands of dollars in union spending.

Jones, a former school financial officer, defeated Jelincic, an outspoken critic of the retirement fund, in a 66 percent to 34 percent vote held over the last month, according to election results CalPERS released on Friday.

About 116,000 of the roughly 600,000 CalPERS retirees in the state voted, according to the results. Members voted online, by phone and by mail from Aug. 30 to Sept. 30.

Jones’ campaign benefited from heavy spending from unions, while Jelincic had support from the state’s biggest retired public employee organizations.

Two committees representing a range of unions spent about $442,000 this year to help Jones, according to campaign filings.

Union efforts to support Jones included a campaign mailer made to look as if were sent by State Treasurer Fiona Ma, when it was in fact funded by a political action committee formed by SEIU California.

The mailer included a copy of a letter Ma wrote urging Jelincic to drop out of the election based on an administrative judge’s 2011 finding there was merit to claims Jelincic had harassed three women when he was a CalPERS investment officer.

Among donors to the groups supporting Jones were affiliates of SEIU Local 1000, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California Professional Firefighters and other SEIU branches.

Jelincic served two terms on the CalPERS board in addition to working there. He had endorsements from the Retired Public Employees’ Association and California State Retirees.

Jones’ fourth four-year term begins Jan. 16, according to the release.

The retiree seat is one of 13 on the California Public Employees’ Retirement System board, which sets investment policy and manages the fund’s investment staff. CalPERS, with about $380 billion in assets, is the nation’s largest public pension fund.

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Wes Venteicher anchors The Bee’s popular State Worker coverage in the newspaper’s Capitol Bureau. He covers taxes, pensions, unions, state spending and California government. A Montana native, he reported on health care and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining The Bee in 2018.