The San Diego County Employees Retirement Association (SDCERA) has amended its media policy to allow its trustees to talk to media outlets. Previously, all media requests were re-directed to the fund’s CEO, Brian White.
Trustees called the policy “too controlling” and equated it to “communist Russia”.
Reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune:
County pension trustees are now free to talk to reporters, bloggers and anyone else without running afoul of their media policy.
The San Diego County Employees Retirement Association policy previously prohibited board members from commenting to the media, instructing them to direct all media requests to the CEO or his spokesman.
The board voted 7-1 to remove the prohibition.
Trustee Samantha Begovich said the old policy violated her First Amendment right.
“That’s communist Russia right there,” she said. “I see no basis for that.”
She said one problem with CEO Brian White as the sole arbiter of agency comments is that he’s too quick to defend investment consultant Salient Partners of Texas.
“We are not the PR arm of Salient,” Begovich said.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents the county Board of Supervisors on the pension board, suggested at one point that having a media policy was unnecessary.
“It’s understood that the board president or the CEO would speak on behalf of the board or the board position,” she said. “But in no way should it preclude a board member from expressing their opinion.”
County Treasurer Dan McAllister cast the only vote against the change, saying he wanted to rescind the policy entirely.
“It’s too controlling,” he said. “It’s too overlording.”
One trustee, David Myers, thought the previous policy was “fine”, although he ended up voting to amend it. From the San Diego UT:
Trustee David Myers said the policy was correct to direct board members to refer media requests to the CEO or board chair.
“The policy is fine the way it is, despite the conspiracy hysteria by one trustee to what the policy is,” Myers said, although he then went along with the board majority in supporting the change.
SDCERA manages $10.5 billion in assets.
Photo by Gene Han via Flickr CC License