The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously reaffirmed Wendy Paskin-Jordan’s appointment to the city’s retirement board after supervisors said they were satisfied that she did not violate any ethics rules regarding a personal investment she made with Grantham Mayo van Otterloo & Co.
Ms. Paskin-Jordan, who was reappointed last month to the $20 billion San Francisco City & County Employees’ Retirement System by Mayor Edwin Lee, said given “the grief” she had received about the investment with GMO that she wished she had invested elsewhere. But she insisted she had violated no ethics rules, winning over supervisors who commended her for her service to the city.
The Board of Supervisors, which has the power to reject the mayor’s appointments, held a hearing Monday regarding an anonymous complaint that Ms. Paskin-Jordan, the wife of former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan, had violated ethics rules with her GMO investment.
Ms. Paskin-Jordan had made a personal investment of between $100,000 and $1 million in August 2011, according to her disclosure form.
The ethics complaint says that was below the company’s minimum investment threshold of $10 million, alleging special treatment for Ms. Paskin-Jordan, who was on the retirement board at the time.
The San Francisco retirement board also has a $388 million investment with GMO.
But Ms. Paskin-Jordan, who runs a wealth management business, said she had received permission from GMO officials to invest below the minimum before she was on the retirement board.
Supervisors also went beyond the ethics complaint and questioned Ms. Paskin-Jordan about why the retirement board had failed to divest from fossil-fuel companies, despite an April 2013 resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors calling for such divestment.
Ms. Paskin-Jordan said she is open to divestment.
The retirement board members have said that divestment is years away and approved a much more scaled back plan in October to began engaging companies on issues relating to fossil fuels.
Supervisor John Avalos, who had sponsored the board of supervisors vote on divestment, told Ms. Paskin-Jordan that the retirement board has been moving too slowly.
Ms. Paskin-Jordan replied that retirement systems, including San Francisco, could do better and promised that the board would more aggressively look at the divestment issue in the future.