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L. A. pension board approves disclosure measure in wake of New York probe

July 23, 2009 |  1:09 pm

Responding to investigations into pension systems in New York and elsewhere, a Los Angeles pension agency voted today to require any company seeking business with its board to disclose its campaign contributions to city political candidates.

On a 6-0 vote, the Fire and Police Pensions board approved a policy demanding quarterly statements that spell out the political donations made by such companies, as well as their paid representatives, their employees and their employees’ family members, to candidates for mayor, city attorney, city controller and City Council.

Campaign contribution reports are already submitted to the city’s Ethics Commission. But those reports do not name the city agency where a campaign contributor hopes to secure a contract -- or other financially favorable decision.

The policy follows allegations of kickbacks at the New York State Common Retirement Fund by New York Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Part of that case deals with campaign contributions that were secured by former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, the elected official who supervised that fund.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa picks five out of nine members of the Fire and Police Pensions board and four out of seven members of the city Employees’ Retirement System. At the same time, he regularly raises money from companies and individuals that have sought or received city pension investments.

Last year, Villaraigosa held a reelection fundraiser in Texas that was co-hosted by Henry Cisneros, executive chairman of the real estate fund CityView. Over the last three years, Fire and Police Pensions and a second city pension agency -- which have a majority of their members appointed by the mayor -- voted to invest as much as $50 million in CityView.

The new disclosure policy will also require the disclosure of all “placement agents” -- individuals and firms that promote a specific investment proposal -- as well as other intermediaries. The policy also requires the disclosure of any gifts given to pension board members by companies seeking contracts with the Fire and Police Pension System.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall