State Hides ‘Scandal Tainted’ Info, Times Says

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – The California Public Employees Retirement System refuses to release public records on its “dealings with scandal-tainted ‘placement agents’ and its decisions to buy or sell certain investments,” the Los Angeles Times claims in a FOIA complaint in Superior Court. The Times claims some of these “agents” were involved in kickback schemes in New York.

     The Times asked for “records related to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s (hereafter CalPERS’) dealings with scandal-tainted ‘placement agents’ and its decisions to buy or sell certain investments. At a time when CalPERS is under close scrutiny because of inflated payments to ‘placement agents’ who steered CalPERS’ money to disastrous investments, CalPERS has taken the position that it will not disclose many records related to its investments.
“CalPERS’ position is in direct defiance of article I, section 3(b) of the California Constitution which opens records to public scrutiny,” the Times says.
     “This petition seeks to shed light on how CalPERS invests its billions of dollars in public funds, and to what extent self-dealing by top CalPERS officials has cost the public money in an era when the average person struggles to scrape by.”
     The Times claims that CalPERS is “withholding records that would show how it came to invest in firms which state prosecutors in New York have linked to kickback schemes. Among them is Paladin Homeland Security, which New York prosecutors labeled a ‘politically connected firm’ that paid kickbacks to a political operative who helped the firm secure pension business.
     “CalPERS is also concealing records related to Darius Anderson, a powerful Sacramento lobbyist whose firm recently paid $500,000 in fines in New York and is banned from making political contributions to pension fund officials. Documents that would expose CalPERS’ dealings with Elliot Broidy, who has pled guilty to bribery in New York, are also being withheld from public scrutiny by CalPERS, the nation’s largest public pension system.”
     The Times is represented by Karl Olson of San Francisco.

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