(Updated Sept. 13, 2011)
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that establishes a CFO position at CalPERS and toughens timelines for when board members and staff at the $217.1 billion system and CalSTRS can move to certain other jobs.
“These new laws allow CalPERS to continue to apply newer and higher standards of accountability, integrity, and openness to ensure public trust in our institution,” Anne Stausboll, CEO of the $217.1 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Sacramento, said in a statement.
The bill creating the CalPERS CFO position, which Mr. Brown signed on Sunday, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2012.
In an e-mailed response to questions, CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco said the CalPERS board will need to create the position and then a search will begin to fill it. Russell G. Fong, interim assistant executive officer of CalPERS’ administrative services branch, was named acting CFO on April 4.
Among the new restrictions, board members and designated staff including investment professionals at CalPERS and the $146.6 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System, West Sacramento, is a 10-year moratorium on the acceptance of jobs as placement agents.
Mr. Brown also vetoed legislation that would have prohibited board members and staffers at CalPERS and CalSTRS from accepting gifts in excess of $50 per year from anyone doing business with CalPERS or CalSTRS. The current law sets the limit at $420 for state employees.
Mr. Brown said in his veto message on Oct. 7 that gifts to public officials should be disclosed and subject to monetary limits. But he said applying new limits exclusively to CalSTRS and CalPERS would add more complexity without advancing the goals of political reform.
That veto throws into limbo a CalPERS policy that that barred employees from taking gifts, even going as far as prohibiting employees from getting a gift of coffee.
“Recent scandals at CalPERS have left a troubling perception that senior pension officials and board members could be ‘wined and dined’ to secure pension fund dollars,” Jason Roper, press secretary for state Controller John Chiang who sponsored the gift-limit legislation, said in a statement. “The controller pushed hard for this legislation to stop any undue influence and restore confidence in our pension systems. He will continue to work with the governor, Legislature and the pension systems to tighten the reins on inappropriate gifts.”