CalSTRS Board Approves Restrictions to Campaign Contributions
State Regulations to Guard Against 'Pay to Play' on Investment Decisions

News release

 SACRAMENTO, CA  – The board of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) today approved proposed regulations restricting campaign contributions to board members. Today’s action is the latest step in establishing the state’s first such regulations for public pension plans.

“We’re proud of the work we’ve done as a board toward eliminating ‘pay to play’ opportunities,” said Dana Dillon, chair of the Teachers’ Retirement Board. “We currently operate at the highest ethical level. Moving forward with these regulations underscores our commitment to conflict-free investment decisions.”

The proposed regulations:

  • Restrict campaign contributions to board members and the Governor to no more than $1,000 individually or $5,000 in the aggregate for a twelve-month period;
  • Require board members to recuse themselves when such a campaign contribution is received; and
  • Disqualify a party in violation of the regulations from engaging in future or additional business with CalSTRS for a period of two years.

“As pension fiduciaries and strong advocates of good governance practices, we felt these regulations were an important step that sends a strong message to our business partners and membership that protecting the system’s integrity is paramount,” said Jack Ehnes, CalSTRS chief executive officer.

Today’s board action is the latest step in the Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking process that began last December when the board approved proposed regulatory language. Hearings were held and written comments were received from members of the public, including the business and investment communities.

CalSTRS legal counsel on the case was Olson, Hagel and Fishburn of Sacramento.

In response to the comments, the regulations were substantially revised to clarify the intent of the provisions and define the parties to whom the regulations apply. The public had an additional opportunity to comment on the revised proposed regulations. The next step in the rulemaking process is a review of the proposed regulations by the Office of Administrative Law.

The Teachers’ Retirement Board includes three member-elected positions representing current educators, five representatives appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, and four board members who serve in an ex-officio capacity by virtue of their office: Director of Finance, State Controller, State Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Treasurer.

With a $169 billion investment portfolio, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System is the second-largest public pension fund in the United States. It administers retirement, disability and survivor benefits for California’s 795,000 public school educators and their families and 1,400 school districts. For more information on CalSTRS, visit

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