Corruption and Political Intrigue in Government Employee Pensions

-By Warner Todd Huston

The Los Angeles Times has a disheartening report about the graft, corruption, and nest-feathering infesting the administration of California’s government employees pension fund, CalPers (California Public Employees’ Retirement System). It reports that subordinates were pressured into investing in to firms run by political buddies and that one of the former CalPERS administrators was “lucky” enough to have been handed a high paying new job in one of those politically connected firms after he left the government agency.

Some of these officials now under investigation are also accused of falsifying documents to further their schemes of self-enrichment at the expense of the people, accepting large gifts that went unreported, and earning millions in “placement agent fees.”

A 17-month investigation also found that Federico Buenrostro Jr. — along with former pension fund board members Charles Valdes and Kurato Shimada — strong-armed a benefits firm to pay more than $4 million in fees to consultant Alfred J.R. Villalobos, who later hired Buenrostro.

Buenrostro and Valdes raked in millions of dollars each in supposed commissions and finder’s fees while pressuring the government run pension fund to invest in their pal’s firms and businesses. And even after taking in millions in illicit income, J.R. Villalobos has declared bankruptcy claiming he owes more than $5 million to Nevada casinos.

Once again we see the corruption endemic in the pension systems for government employees. It isn’t just California. Sadly things are like this throughout the country.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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Copyright Publius Forum 2001