• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Some Brown appointees accused of 'double-dipping'

September 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some of Governor Jerry Brown's political appointments are raising concerns about pension reform.

Critics say "double-dipping" is alive and well in government. New appointees are making $100,000 and collecting a public pension that's equally generous. In one instance, the double payments total more than $300,000 a year.

Governor Brown has promised pension reform, yet he's keeping alive the practice of what critics call "double-dipping": He's filled some well-paying positions on state boards and commissions with retired government employees who are already receiving six-figure pensions.

Brown, when asked how he can push for pension reform yet allow "double-dipping" to continue, said, "Good question. I'll have a pension reform soon. But I'm not talking about pensions today."

One example is the Brown appointment of Ann Ravel to chairperson of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, an ethics watchdog.

She makes $132,000 a year as the agency's chairwoman. That's on top of the $172,000 pension she gets from her 30-plus years as an attorney for Santa Clara County.

"I have not done anything that I think is inappropriate," said Ravel.

She doesn't see it as double-dipping since one job was with the county and the other job is with the state.

"While I understand that there's a lot of concern that people have about public-employee pensions, I'm operating and I have operated under what the rules were when I started working," said Ravel.

Marcia Fritz is the president of California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility. She has been pushing for pension reform for years. She wants the rules changed to be more like Social Security.

"If you earn over $15,000 a year, then the Social Security Administration says, 'Whoa, you can't collect your full benefit at that point.' I don't see what the difference is with a government employee," said Fritz. "If you're retired, you're retired. If you're working, you're working."

The Brown administration believes it needs to hire the best and most experienced people.

Asked again to justify how it's OK to allow some people to collect two government checks, Brown said, "I have a good answer for you, but I don't want to give it to you today."

Former Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican, also appointed retirees to state boards.

Chairwoman Ravel says a separate state pension is not part of the benefits she gets in her new job.


Load Comments