After spending years dogged by unpaid debts,
California labor leader Charles Valdes filed for bankruptcy in the
1990s—twice. At the same time, he held one of the most influential
positions in the American financial system: chair of the investment
committee for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or
CalPERS, the nation’s largest pension fund for government workers.
Valdes left the board in 2010 and now faces scrutiny for accepting gifts
from another former board member, Alfred Villalobos—who, the state
alleges, spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to influence how the
fund invested its assets. Questioned by investigators about his dealings
with Villalobos, Valdes invoked the Fifth Amendment 126 times.
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