Why "CalPERS Manager" Is Every Stock Picker's Dream Job


Every dollar CalPERS spends at Walgreens generates $1.55 in economic activity.

California's public pension fund allowed its fund managers to take mega-jet-set kickbacks from financial companies looking to win big state investments.

In testimony related to Attorney General Jerry Brown's bribery lawsuit against a former California Public Employee Retirement System board member, a CalPERS representative has admitted that he and other CalPERS investment staffers accepted gifts, steaks at Morton's, toys, and dozens of luxury trips to exotic ports of call like Shanghai, Mumbai and New York.

Was sex part of the package? Sounds like it. From Evan Halper at the L.A. Times:

The court filings reveal a culture at CalPERS where it was common for large private equity firms such as Yucaipa, the Carlyle Group and Oak Hill Capital Partners to fly CalPERS investment staff around the country and the world, sometimes for what were described as "one on one" strategic meetings.

Imagine getting gladhanded by this guy?

CalPERS manager Joncarlo Mark, whose powerpoint wisdom and email address you can find here, gave this testimony in the lawsuit against former CalPERS board member Alfred Villalobos. Jerry Brown accuses Villalobos of bribery and is seeking $95 million in damages. Villalobos contends this kind of client servicing was an ordinary feature of CalPERS business (at least until the fund reined in some practices in 2008). From Dale Kasler at the Sacramento Bee:

Villalobos' lawyers said he bribed no one—and took issue with CalPERS officials' statements that they were stunned to learn about the fees he earned. They filed hundreds of pages of deposition transcripts—detailing closed-door testimony with CalPERS officials discussing their awareness of his activities.

Kurato Shimada, who briefly worked for Villalobos before joining the CalPERS board in 2002, said people at CalPERS knew that Villalobos' commissions generally came to about 2 percent of the investment. Shimada added that he personally earned $40,000 helping Villalobos pitch a deal to the CalPERS board in 2000.

These tales of Bourbon decadence are proven crowd-pleasers, but I'm never sure how seriously to take them. They always remind me of the Senate Candy Desk: You give "public servants" riches beyond imagination, force that cannot be attained in the private sector, and authority to destroy the wealth and livelihoods of others, and then you expect them to abide by penny-ante rules about gift bags?

I leave it to the person who made me a libertarian, San Francisco's own Starchild:

The root cause in politics is that the government has so many favors to hand out that it's like flies to honey, or shit if you prefer. As long as the government's power is there you're going to have lobbying. If you make that illegal the only difference is that occasionally somebody will be caught and go to jail. So the real solution is to get power back to the people so there isn't this incentive to lobby and influence the government.

Speaking of luxury travel and exotic ports of call, have you bought your ticket on the Reason Cruise yet? Plenty of kickbacks, fancy meals, sex definitely part of the package. (And with libertarians, the "strategic meetings" don't have to be just "one on one.")

NEXT: The Wealth of Cities

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  1. Before the housing bubble popped, I had never heard of Calpers. Or Bernie Madoff. Crooks they are.

  2. One-on-one is standard industry parlance for meetings between key company executives and an investment professional. Not that it can’t be misconstrued or mean something else…

    1. Yeah, I think Gillespie’s interpretation says more about his own diseased mind than anything else. I sure hope he doesn’t do “one-on-one interviews” with prospective interns for

      1. Gillespie?

        1. OK, Cavanaugh, whatever. Unfortunately he doesn’t hire anyone so I can’t use that. Still.

    2. I’d be far more willing to sell out my sacred trust for a nice two-on-one.

      1. Abdul! You magnificient bastard!

        Well done.

    3. I had the same thought. I mean, if the lobbyists were handing out luxuries like a dinner that “typically costs $125” and “books” and “trinkets”, somehow call girls seem a little out of place in that list.

      1. I respond to a nice call girl, much more than a nice dinner.

        Sides, we know that often times, it’s not a call girl, but the employee that’s doing the fucking.

        Sex sells EVERYTHING

      2. Tell that to Eliot Spitzer.

  3. So libertarians are de facto polyamorous or group sex enthusiasts now? The movement gets more awesome by the day!

    1. No… with libertarians everything is optional. 🙂

    2. Actually, libertarians are mostly orgy enthusiasts. Hence the popularity of that scene in Caligula.

      1. In the deleted scenes of Caligula there is a quite interesting conversation about excessive taxes being theft between a split-faced hermaphrodite and a fuck-midget.

        1. I have that version; I once asked Guiccione if that was in Vidal’s original book and he said “no, I added that just to piss Gore off”.

          1. Not to ruin the joke, but I must defend Vidal on this one. He wrote the original screenplay, which was gutted, consumed, and regurgitated by others. There is no underlying novel.

            I know this personally, as I always liked Vidal’s classical history novels (Creation and Julian) and bought a used copy of the novel Caligula, which had his name on it and everything. Needless to say, I should’ve looked closer, because it was Gore Vidal’s Caligula, written by someone other than Gore Vidal. And it sucked ass. In fact, it probably did literally, as it appears to have been a novelization of the film. . .as shot. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the movie, but I think I’m right about this.

            1. Wow, Pro L, who knew you were such an expert on Caligula?

              1. More on Vidal’s connection to the not-novel. While I think he’s a wacko, I’m a big fan of Creation and Julian. When I saw the book (this is pre-Internet), I thought I’d uncovered another of his classical period novels. I knew it was connected to the bad movie, but I assumed the movie just went off on some obscene tangent. Wrong!

                So, yes, this whole business has kind of stuck in my head.

    3. (And with libertarians, the “strategic meetings” don’t have to be just “one on one.”)

      Great, group sex involving 15 fugly middle-aged white guys. On a cruise ship. That sounds awesome….

      You should put that out on video. Vivid has it all wrong with their whole focus on 19 year old girls… You’ll make a killing.

      1. Anything and everything related to sex has been fetishized and commoditized. (For example, in researching something else a few years back, I discovered that there is actually such a thing as a nose fetish.) I’m sure there are people with a fetish for fugly middle-aged white guys.

    4. Obviously, you’ve never been to an LP convention.

  4. You should provide complimentary cruise tickets for Starchild. Then again scratch that, he would probably make a bloody fortune on the cruise.

    The outfits this year were pretty good. The formal was awesome.

    1. I didnt see a set of wings this year…maybe they are out of style.

  5. I leave it to the person who made me a libertarian, San Francisco’s own Starchild

    This explains a lot about Tim.

    <ow!> Sorry Starchild, just making a joke. <ow!>

    1. Libertarian by injection?

    2. He’s possible one of the best spoken most coherent people at the LP conventions. Plus he’s in some wicked shape. Of course, you have to be to wear hot pants and a half shirt in go go boots.

  6. Is it just me, or does Joncarlo Mark look like the kind of guy who hangs out with Silvio and Paulie Walnuts?

    1. Its not just you.

  7. I think the comparison with Rome is more apt than the Bourbons.

  8. I realize that Reason’s editorial and production offices are in California, but there are 49 other states, plus Puerto Rico, Guam, a corrupt mound of dirt, sand and tourist shops somewhere in the Virgin Islands and Allah-knows-what-else. Is the selective California-bashing (not that there is anything wrong with that) attributable to limited resources, or something else?

    1. Is the selective California-bashing (not that there is anything wrong with that) attributable to limited resources, or something else?

      They’re just picking on the fat kid.

    2. California does seem to be the ringleader of the most dysfunctional states.

  9. It should be noted that for years CALPERS would release an annual list of publicly traded companies that had questionable management practices. It seems as though they compiled some of the most questionable techniques and accidentally confused them with best practices.


  10. All the libertarian gatherings I’ve been too were sexless events filled with straight Aspergery males

  11. (And with libertarians, the “strategic meetings” don’t have to be just “one on one.”)

    No luck convincing my wife of that yet.

  12. Villalobos? That is one of the coolest names I have seen in a while. Now, off with his head.

  13. Walmart expects their purchasing agents to not take gifts. Why shouldn’t the government?

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