Sacramento County Retirement System Sued for List of Highest Pensions Paid

April 16, 2010 ( - The Sacramento Bee and the First Amendment Coalition have filed a lawsuit to compel the Sacramento County Employees' Retirement System to release the names of retirees getting pensions greater than $100,000 annually.

The Bee said it has tried during the past year to get a list of the top earners, but SCERS officials have rejected the requests. In a July 16, 2009, letter to The Bee, SCERS attorney Jim Line wrote that as recently as 2005, the Sacramento Superior Court decided “that personal identifiers for retirees (‘names’ in that case) are not required to be provided in response to a request for public records,” according to the news report.  

Line also recently told the Bee: “We believe that the County Employees’ Retirement Law, and our fiduciary obligations, require us to keep such information confidential.”   

However, the newspaper points out that recent court rulings in Contra Costa and Stanislaus counties found in favor of newspapers, and judges required the county pension systems in question to release the names of top pensioners. It also notes that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System also considers such information public and recently released an updated list of its “$100,000 Club.”  

“(T)he records sought are most assuredly public records. They are not a letter from a friend, or a public employee’s shopping list, but rather records which show how tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds have been or will be spent,” The Bee said in its suit.