Public pensions face disclosure suits

| Media Coverage


For years state and local officials have been reluctant to disclose pension information about recipients. In more and more cases this results in lawsuits demanding the release of this information given that there is no legal basis for protecting it from the public. The primary issue circles around growing public scrutiny of public-sector pensions and how local and state tax dollars are spent in light of budget shortfalls and service cutbacks.

The California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility is a group that advocates cutting back pension benefits and recently sued the San Diego retirement fund when its operating officials refused to disclose the names of retirees collecting annual pensions of $100,000 or more. Even though other counties in the Golden State have readily released such information, San Diego has steadfastly refused to do so contending that state law precludes it from doing so yet no specific law has ever been cited by the courts. The executive director of the retirement system bases his position on the possibility that disclosure of this information could leave retirees open to identify theft or other types of fraud.

A conservative group in New York, the Manhattan Institute Empire Center, has recently become active filing legal actions against both the city’s firefighters and police retirement systems. Pension fund administrators make arguments similar to those put forth by the County of San Diego relative to legal protection as well as invasion of privacy. These two lawsuits are in the early stages and may be affected by how other pension plans respond to comparable requests…

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