New Complaint With California Watchdog Charges CalPERS Board Member Theresa Taylor With Perjury for Filing False Declarations that Hid Over $30,000 of Income; Follows Fines of Board President Jones for Campaign Violations
People in glass houses should not throw stones. We’ve reported on how CalPERS is engaged in what Pulitzer Prize winner Mike Hiltzik called a “witch hunt” against board member Margaret Brown by restricting her ability to perform her duties on fabricated grounds.1 Yet it has ignored an apparent felony among its own board members, in this case Theresa Taylor, who is the Vice President of the CalPERS board.
As we’ll show, Taylor has made a cut-and-dried violation of California requirements for California officials to report all income and assets received from non-government sources in their jurisdiction. Specifically, Taylor hid at least $30,000 of income she received as Vice President/Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU 1000 from 2016 to 2018.
Taylor failed to disclose this income on the Fair Political Practices Commission’s Form 700, a disclosure of economic interests, which is a form sworn under penalty of perjury. Perjury is a felony in California. Taylor has self-identified as unfit to serve in office through this repeated, willful violation.
The failure to report such a large and readily documented source of income also raises the question as to whether Taylor has failed to report other income. For instance, the FPCC requires California government officials to report gifts of over $50. Has Taylor received concert tickets, or meals, or had travel or hotels paid for by California interests that she similarly failed to report?
And Taylor is far from the only CalPERS board member to flout FPCC rules. Former board president Priya Mathur was a serial violator, repeatedly filing Forms 700 and campaign disclosure forms egregiously late. The FPCC commissioners even took the unusual step of increasing a 2014 fine considerably higher than what enforcement staff had recommended due to her being a recidivist.
The FPCC has also fined board president Henry Jones. From April 2020 (emphasis original):
In the Matter of Henry Jones for CalPERS 2015 and Henry Jones; FPPC No. 18/109. Staff: Theresa Gilbertson, Commission Counsel and Patricia Ballantyne, Program Specialist. The respondents were represented by Leilani Rudow Beaver and Joseph Guardarrama of the Kaufman Legal Group. This matter arose from two mandatory audits conducted by the Fair Political Practices Commission. Henry Jones was a successful candidate representing retired members of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (“CalPERS”) Board of Administration. Henry Jones for CalPERS 2015 was his candidate-controlled committee. The Committee and Jones have signed an agreement to toll the statute of limitations, effective March 27, 2020. The Committee and Jones failed to open a separate controlled committee and campaign bank account for Jones’ 2015 candidacy, by April 7, 2015, in violation of Government Code Sections 84101, 85201, and Regulation 18521 (1 count). Fine: $2,000.
Sadly, FPPC fines tend to be of the small beer level.
Evidence of Theresa Taylor Committing Perjury by Failing to Disclose Income for Years
Below is the confirmation of former CalPERS board member and former SEUi 1000 president JJ Jelincic of his complaint regarding Theresa Taylor.
From: Complaint org-wide
Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 02:45:26 PM PDT
Subject: FPPC Complaint Submission Confirmation
We have received your complaint.
For future reference, the Complaint Number is: COM-06302020-01129 and the respondents listed on the complaint are: Taylor.
If you have filed a sworn complaint, we will notify you of our intended action in approximately 14 days.
If, however, you did not file a sworn complaint, you can track the resolution of your complaint via our website at http://www.fppc.ca.gov/.
Once you have submitted your complaint, you can check the status of the complaint by emailing your complaint confirmation number to email@example.com.
The text proper:
Theresa Taylor is a member of the CalPERS Board and an 87200 flier.
In early 2017, 2018 and 2019 she filed Form 700s covering the calendar years 2016, 2017 and 2018. She failed to disclose income from SEIU Local 1000.
A Form 700 clearly require the disclosure of Income on Schedule C. Each of those forms contain the following:
I have used all reasonable diligence in preparing this statement. I have reviewed this statement and to the best of my knowledge the information contained herein and in any attached schedules is true and complete. I acknowledge this is a public document.
I certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
Given that she failed to report the income three years in a row it would suggest not only a failure of “reasonable diligence” but a deliberate withholding the information.
Given the following set of facts it is unlikely that she was unaware of where the extra money
in bank accounts was coming from:
• As a member of the Board of Directors of SEIU 1000 she voted on the officer stipends,
• As Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU 1000 she knew that the local was paying the officers (including herself) stipends,
• As a Tax Compliance Officer for the Franchise Tax Board she knew that compensation for service was income, and
• As a recipient of a year-end tax form she was informed that she had received income.
Jelincic sent me the text of his complaint, which is a public record and can be obtained via the Public Records Act:
1 As we described longer form, and was confirmed in comments, the issue was Brown’s supposed misuse of the CalPERS name as part of her Twitter handle, even though other current and former board members have done the same without being sanctioned. Hiltzik explained in his column why Brown’s use, by her having a clear, legitimate, and disclosed relationship with CalPERS, and not being used to sell a product or service, did not fall afoul of California law, as CalPERS misleadingly asserted. CalPERS also asserted trademark and copyright violations, which are similarly implausible. A single word cannot be copyrighted. And to have any defensible intellectual property claim, CalPERS would have to have consistently and pro-actively pursued alleged abuses, which it has fatally undermined by allowing Brown to have her Twitter account for eighteen months and not asking the many other CalPERS and non-CalPERS members who incorporate “CalPERS” into their Twitter handles to cut it out.