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PRI Advisory Council and board member Priya Mathur fined over California campaign violations

Senior CalPERS official under scrutiny from Fair Political Practices Commission watchdog

Priya Sara Mathur, the senior CalPERS official who sits on the Advisory Council and board of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), has been fined thousands of dollars for ethics violations relating to her role at the $301.5bn (€225.6bn) US pension giant by California’s political ethics watchdog, it has emerged.

Confirming a report in the LA Times, Mathur – who is Vice President of the Board of Administration at CalPERS – told Responsible Investor that she has agreed to pay a fine for not filing campaign financial statements on time with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

“I inadvertently failed to file the proper forms for 2012 to close my campaign committee. When, in a conversation with the FPPC, I discovered that the paperwork had not been correctly filed, I immediately brought my committee filings up to date,” she said, adding: “FPPC staff offered me a reduced settlement for $1,000 for failure to file four semi-annual campaign reports, which I accepted.” Contacted by RI, CalPERS declined to comment for this article.

Mathur’s violation comes just a month before a CalPERS’ board election pitting her against Leyne Milsten, Finance Director of Sacramento, California’s capital city. Mathur, who has served on CalPERS’ board since 2002, is seeking a fourth term. Her candidacy is being supported by public employees union AFSCME.

Mathur was elected by PRI signatories to the Advisory Council in 2011. Fourteen months later, she was appointed to the PRI’s Association Board, the UK-based body which oversees the PRI’s secretariat. She currently chairs the Advisory Council’s Governance Committee and sits on the Board’s Audit and Risk Committee, according to the PRI’s website.

The latest run-in with the FPPC is not Mathur’s first. According to the LA Times, the FPPC has fined her $13,000 already for not complying with required disclosures for elected or appointed California employees.In 2006, for example, she had to pay $6,000 after improperly filing financial documents related to her first campaign for CalPERS’ board.

In the spring of 2010, the FPPC slapped her with a $7,000 fine for not filing “statements of economic interest” on time for the years 2007 and 2008. When the statements finally materialised, Mathur said she had received no gifts or income that represented conflicts of interest with her duties at CalPERS. Mathur’s main job is Principal Financial Analyst at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the public transportation firm for the San Francisco area.

Asked if the PRI knew about Mathur’s run-ins with the FPPC prior to her election to the Advisory Council, PRI Managing Director Fiona Reynolds said the organisation only had the information she supplied. She said: “Candidates are asked to supply a biography and statement that forms part of the candidate pack for signatories to review in advance of any vote. Our election rules make clear that candidates are responsible for the content of these statements. We expect candidates to disclose any information they believe to be material to their candidacy in their statements prior to election.”

Reynolds added that as part of the PRI’s sweeping governance review, the election process was being looked at. Mathur’s three-year term on the PRI’s Advisory Council is set to expire in September. The PRI said it could not confirm whether she was seeking re-election to the Council, as the deadline for candidate submissions (August 22) had not yet expired. The PRI is to elect new members to the Council at a signatory meeting in Montreal next month. Fair Political Practices Commission