A former California Public Employees’ Retirement System board member has filed a lawsuit against the $455 billion fund’s board of administration, seeking records related to its ex-chief investment officer’s 2020 exit.
J.J. Jelincic filed the lawsuit in a California court on March 8, alleging that CalPERS improperly held a closed meeting about its ex-CIO (Yu) Ben Meng’s exit, and has since refused to release records about it.
Meng resigned on August 5 following allegations of disclosure violations, as Institutional Investor previously reported. The meeting in question was held on August 17, shortly after he stepped down.
Jelincic said in the suit that he has been trying to get information about what took place at the August meeting, starting by filing a public records request in September. According to the lawsuit, CalPERS “refused” to provide records, saying that it either did not have the records or they were exempt from disclosure.
A few months later, on December 16, Jelincic’s attorney sent a letter to CalPERS calling the August 17 meeting “improper” and requesting all records relating to that meeting. CalPERS responded the next week, refusing to provide the records, the lawsuit said.
“CalPERS fully complied with California law on these matters,” a spokesperson for CalPERS said via email on Monday. “We expect the court to reach the same conclusion and promptly dismiss the lawsuit.”
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Jelincic worked for CalPERS from 1986 through 2019, first as an investment officer, then as a board member. “Since I left the board, I keep pushing to get more and more transparency,” Jelincic said by phone Monday.
In addition to his concerns over the meeting, Jelincic also alleged that CalPERS has not released records related to what the lawsuit described as “inaccurately valued” real asset investments. According to the complaint, CalPERS’ 2018-2019 audit “overstated the value of some of its real assets by nearly $583 million dollars.” CalPERS’ external auditor reported an adjustment for this amount in June 2020, the lawsuit said.
As he did with the meeting records, Jelincic filed a public records request asking for documents related to the valuation information, according to the complaint. CalPERS denied the request, the lawsuit said.
In the lawsuit, Jelincic alleges that CalPERS has violated the Bagley-Keene Act’s open meeting requirements.
“How you operate is not secret,” he told II, referring to the open meeting requirements. “You have a legal obligation to conduct public business in public.”
He also alleged that CalPERS’s board of administration is violating the California Public Records Act, because it has not released records related to the August meeting or the real asset valuations.