CalPERS Board Member Facing Stiffer Penalty After Latest Failure To File Campaign Documents

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What do the years 2002, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013 all have in common?

Those are the years that Priya Mathur, Vice President of the CalPERS board, failed to submit campaign finance documents or conflict of interest statements in a timely manner.

She was fined three times by the Fair Political Practices Commission over that period for those violations. Now, another fine is coming for her latest transgressions. From the LA Times:

At issue in the recent enforcement action was the failure to file four semiannual campaign financial statements for 2012 and 2013 in a timely manner.

In a recent email, she described the missed reports as an oversight. “I had inadvertently failed to file the proper forms in 2012 to close my campaign committee,” she said.

The proposed fine of $1,000 was announced Aug. 11 after she and FPPC attorneys reached an agreement to settle the charges. In turn, Mathur and her board reelection committee pledged not to contest the punishment.

But the panel reversed course on the $1000 dollar fine and decided they should quadruple it—raising it to $4000. The Sacramento Bee reports:

Mathur, the pension fund’s vice president, had agreed to a $1,000 fine with the staff of the state Fair Political Practices Commission. But the commissioners refused to accept the fine Thursday, arguing that Mathur should get a higher penalty because she had been fined several times before by the FPPC.

Gary Winuk, the agency’s chief of enforcement, said commissioners sent the case back to the FPPC’s staff and suggested the fine be increased to $4,000.

“Given her history … they felt it warranted a higher penalty,” he said. He said the matter could be brought back to the commission next month.

At this point, Mathur and the ethics panel probably know each other on a first name bases. But repeated disciplinary actions haven’t changed Mathur’s behavior. From the Sac Bee:

The FPPC has already fined Mathur a total of $13,000 for earlier transgressions, including late filing of campaign documents and her conflict-of-interest statements. The most recent fine came in 2010, prompting the CalPERS board to punish her by removing her as chair of the health benefits committee and suspending her from traveling on pension fund business.

In the latest case, Mathur was late filing four campaign finance statements in connection with her re-election bid. Mathur told The Sacramento Bee last week that the late filing was the result of a paperwork mix-up.

The FPPC staff, in its report to the commissioners, said it took “numerous requests” from investigators to get Mathur to finally file the documents. That conduct played a role in the commissioners’ desire for a stronger penalty, Winuk said.

The board’s election takes place next week. The election is conducted by mail.

Photo by Blake O’Brien via Flickr CC License

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