The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) just wrapped up its October board election for the retired member representative seat on the CalPERS Board of Administration between Henry Jones and Joseph “JJ” Jelincic, with Jones declared the victor on the results certified on October 17.
Jones is the incumbent in the election, and the retired chief financial officer for Los Angeles Unified School District. Jelincic is a retired investment officer for CalPERS.
But following the election results, Jelincic penned a letter to the pension’s board, calling for the election results to be overturned and a new balloting be held.
“Unfortunately, the grounds for the protest are several,” Jelincic wrote in his statement. “Preliminarily, however, we may never know the full extent of the violations in this election, as many of them appear to have been orchestrated by CalPERS Board members and staff.”
Jelincic claims that CalPERS utilized governmental resources to undermine his campaign’s efforts to win the election. One such example, Jelincic said, was “the CalPERS Office of Public Affairs was directly involved in attempting to disseminate stories accusing Mr. Jelincic of sexual harassment.” He continued that CalPERS staff tried to “get the attacks” published by Chief Investment Officer magazine, Bloomberg, and the Los Angeles Times.
“This is a process and we’re following it, so we do not have a response at this time,” a spokesperson for CalPERS said.
Jelincic also said State Treasurer Fiona Ma had authored a letter, posted on the California State Treasurer Twitter account, “attacking Mr. Jelincic and demanding that he abandon his campaign,” he said in the protest document.
In August, Ma wrote “I recently signed a letter with…[seven] other prominent women in California calling on J.J. Jelincic Jr. to drop out of the race for the CalPERS board after his history of harassing women was revealed by the Sacramento Bee.”
“It matters that three women at CalPERS felt so uncomfortable working with Jelincic that they filed harassment charges against him, and that their allegations were upheld by the California State Personnel Board,” Ma wrote in the statement. “Instead of apologizing to these women, Jelincic claims there is a conspiracy against him.”
Jelincic, in his letter, said there was “an anti-Jelincic dark money group calling themselves ‘Concerned Retirees for Pension and Health Care Security.’ Within a month of that group being formed, it had funded a mass mailing intended to appear as if it was from Treasurer Ma…These employees were permitted (and likely encouraged) to use CalPERS resources to campaign against Mr. Jelincic.”
Outside of the scenario related to sexual harassment allegations, Jelincic also alleged that the current voting system for CalPERS was rife with issues that potentially degrade the election’s integrity and credibility. He said that the election process does not provide for any independent verification of either the number of ballots mailed or returned, and also that the envelopes used to return the marked ballots were see-through, allowing someone to tamper or remove them from the election before they are officially counted.
The issue of sexual harassment is gaining attention in the California pension community. An assembly of California pensions formed an anti-sexual harassment coalition earlier this year called Trustees United. The group contends that such violations not only have a compelling adverse effect on corporate culture and human capital management practices, but also create material risks to investment portfolios and financial performance as a result.