CalPERS board member Margaret Brown is asking a trial court to order board president Henry Jones to rescind the discipline he imposed on her for using CalPERS references in her website names and Twitter handles.
The actions against Ms. Brown included admonishment and a suspension of travel privileges until June 30, according an email attached to a complaint filed against Mr. Jones and the $386.9 billion California Public Employees Retirement System, Sacramento.
The Dec. 20 email said that Ms. Brown was being disciplined for improper use of CalPERS name, first as a website address and then as the handle associated with her Twitter account. That included the use of "calpersboard.com," which Ms. Brown created when she was running for office, and "calpersmargaret," according to a June 19 news release by Ms. Brown and a cease-and-desist letter dated March 10, 2017 obtained by Pensions & Investments.
Ms. Brown said in her June 16 complaint that the punishment restricted her ability to communicate with the CalPERS members she represents.
Ms. Brown's petition said the discipline was "arbitrarily and capriciously imposed on Brown by the board President Henry Jones, without the opportunity to have the merits of the discipline heard by a neutral party — or even by the CalPERS board as a whole."
"CalPERS executives are furious with my Twitter posts that criticize investment strategies and decry pay increases with lofty incentive bonuses for executives requiring only that they meet standards, especially since our investments continue to underperform," Ms. Brown said in the June 19 news release.
Ms. Brown took down the calpersboard.com website, Facebook and Twitter accounts using the name "Calpersboard" as part of her initial election campaign for the CalPERS board, after receiving two letters asking her to do so in 2017, she said in an interview. She also said that Twitter had taken down her Twitter accounts at CalPERS' request before Mr. Jones took his actions in December.
CalPERS spokesman Wayne Davis declined comment.
However, in a written statement, Mr. Jones said that Ms. Brown's lawsuit is without merit. What's more, the CalPERS board delegated the board president with the authority to discipline board members.
"I shouldered that responsibility by carefully considering that Ms. Brown had been previously advised against using CalPERS' name improperly and violating CalPERS' trademarks; that she continued to do so; and that she had not complied with previous directions to stop," Mr. Jones said. "It would have been so much better if Ms. Brown had simply accepted responsibility for her actions and moved on."