Costigan Goes To CalPERS Board!

Anthony Pignataro:

You have no idea how I’ve been waiting for just this announcement. “The California State Personnel Board (SPB) has chosen Richard Costigan as its representative to the California Public Employee’s Retirement System (CalPERS) Board of Administration,” states this CalPERS press release sent out a couple hours ago.

The irony is so delicious that I can taste it from even my tiny, cold office. Though the press release doesn’t mention it at all, Costigan’s most recent job was deputy campaign manager for Meg Whitman, who will be forever known for spending $140 million of her own money in a campaign, only to lose by 12 points to retread Jerry Brown.

Anyway, Costigan was one of Whitman’s many, Many, MANY absurdly well-paid consultants. He basically led the campaign’s policy development team. He held the post — which earned his law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in excess of $300,000 — from June 2009 to the November election.

It was Costigan who masterminded Whitman’s whole pension reform policy — a cobbled together mess that amounted to a giveaway to public safety and fire workers.

“Last April, when Meg laid out her plan to put new hires in a 401(k)-style system, she explicitly said that front-line public safety workers, such as CHP and CalFire, would keep a defined benefit program,” Costigan wrote in an Oct. 19 op-ed posted on FlashReport. “Meg believes public safety employees who put their lives on the line earn a defined benefit.”

When my editor Steven Greenhut asked the campaign how Whitman intended to pay for the state’s $100 million-plus unfunded pension liabilities if she was exempting a huge section of public employees from pension reform, he received only silence in reply.

Now Costigan will be sitting on the CalPERS board, holding authority over those very same pension benefits. Sometimes, politics can be so ugly it’s almost beautiful to behold.

DEC. 15, 2010

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