Harrigan Loses Effort to Regain CalPERS Posts

December 14, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The recently deposed head of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) lost his bid to get back on the giant pension fund's board when a state political leader reappointed a veteran labor leader to the CalPERS post.

Despite pleas from national labor leaders to Democratic state lawmakers to put Sean Harrigan back in his old job as president and a member of the CalPERS board, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez reappointed Mike Quevedo Jr., a vice president of the Laborers International Union, the Los Angeles Times reported. Quevedo will now serve another three-year term on the 13-member panel.

Harrigan was ousted December 1 when the State Personnel Board voted to replace him as its CalPERS representative (See Harrigan Moved Aside at CalPERS ). He blamed his downfall on a conspiracy among business leaders, the California Republican Party and the administration of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On Monday, Harrigan said he didn’t expect his rebuff to slow CalPERS’ penchant for using its portfolio power to effect corporate change. “CalPERS will continue to be the most powerful voice in this country and maybe around the world on corporate governance,” he told the Times. For his part, Quevedo said the board would “continue to do as we have always done” on the corporate governance issue.

Nuñez’s decision to reappoint Quevedo was endorsed by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and sets the stage for a potential power struggle between two main contenders vying for the presidency of the $177-billion CalPERS.

The two are CalPERS Vice President Rob Feckner, a close Harrigan ally, and Willie Brown, the retired mayor of San Francisco and long-time Democratic speaker of the state Assembly. Brown lost a bid for the board’s presidency in 2003 when national and state union officials weighed in on Harrigan’s behalf.