California taxpayers shelled out more than $1 million to a man linked to a Chinese espionage program, making him the state government’s highest-paid worker.
Meng Yu, former chief investment officer of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), received more than $1.7 million in total pay and benefits in 2019, according to the latest financial disclosures obtained by Transparent California, a taxpayer watchdog group. Under Meng’s leadership the pension fund, which covers two million members in the retirement system and 1.5 million members under its health program, has been subject to federal inquiries into its investments in Chinese government entities.
Meng took the lead at the pension fund after China’s Thousand Talents Program recruited him to serve as the deputy CIO of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), a state-controlled entity. The FBI considers the Thousand Talents Program an example of “China’s non-traditional espionage against the United States” that seeks to recruit people to transfer U.S. trade secrets and taxpayer-funded research into the hands of the Chinese government. Meng told the propaganda outlet People’s Daily that he worked for SAFE out of patriotic commitment to “the motherland.”
Neither CalPERS nor Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D.) office responded to requests for comment.
Robert Fellner, the executive director of Transparent California, blasted CalPERS for failing to conduct appropriate oversight for such a high-profile position, pointing to Meng’s August resignation.