We noted recently that the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association was one of many county pension funds that have been facing pressure to release data through litigation, which has resulted in an ongoing legal battle over privacy rights vs. the public’s right to know. It was reported that the SDCERA has spent over a $100,000 for this particular legal fight to reject a data request from the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility and media groups. In response to criticism about this expense and the pension fund’s choice to appeal an order regarding the release of data, the chief executive officer of SDCERA, Brian White, recently penned an op-ed for the San Diego Union Tribune. White contends that the pension fund wants to keep the names of pensioners confidential because it is striving to protect some of society’s most vulnerable individuals: the elderly and disabled. An excerpt from the op-ed states:
“In the wrong hands, this information leaves retirees vulnerable to identity theft, home invasion and other fraud as well as threats to their safety and well-being. AARP recently reported that financial elder abuse and fraud affect more than 5 million older Americans each year and is becoming more common across the country. In Superior Court, SDCERA presented an undisputed evidentiary record of the danger to personal safety, the risk of economic damage and other harm that would be caused to its retired members if their names were publicly released in correlation with their annual benefit amount. Cesario Reyes, former Los Angeles Police Department officer and founder of the department’s Elder Persons Estate Unit, stated, ‘there is no question that the ability to easily locate a list of older people with substantial incomes is of enormous value to perpetrators of financial fraud on the elderly.’”
Read the entire op-ed article here.