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Gascón 'Double Dipping' While Supporting Pension Reform

DA candidate receives $125,000 a year from his Los Angeles Police Department pension

Updated Oct. 14, 2011 at 11:25 a.m. with more detailed information about Gascón's pension from Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions

While San Francisco's District Attorney George Gascón publicly supports pension reform, he is quietly receiving a sizable pension from the Los Angeles Police Department, The Bay Citizen has learned.

Gascón, who is running for a full term as District Attorney, earns a salary of $216,776. He also receives a $125,000 annual pension from Los Angeles Police Department pension.

When informed about his pension, Gascón's opponents in the DA's race criticized Gascón for "double dipping" — taking a pension from one public sector job, while earning a salary from another one. 

“It’s certainly surprising that with the tight budgets in San Francisco and a race where every candidate is supporting the pension reform measure, it turns out that one of the candidates is double dipping instead of cutting back,” said Jon Golinger, campaign manager for DA contender Sharmin Bock.

Double dipping is not illegal. Bock would be eligible for a pension if she retired from her current job as an assistant DA in Alameda County and then became San Francisco's new district attorney, according to Gollinger.

But, he said, "She would be willing to postpone getting her pension until she retired from government in San Francisco."

Maggie Muir, spokeswoman for Gascón’s campaign, said that Gascón, 57, earned his pension.

“George Gascón paid into his pension for 28 years; he worked for very hard for that money,” said Muir. “He understands that people in this economy are hurting, but, as I said, he paid into that for 28 years like many people that paid into their pensions.”

Gascón was an assistant chief when he retired from the Los Angeles Police Department to take a job as police chief in Mesa, Arizona. He does not receive a pension from the Mesa job, which he left in 2009 to become San Francisco's police chief. In January, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him to be DA.

When Gascón retired from the LAPD, he was 52 and had spent 22 years as an officer and six years as reservist. Los Angeles police officers who have worked more than 20 years are entitled to a pension worth half their salary.

Currently, Gascón's pension is worth $10,580.91 a month before taxes, according to spokeswoman for the for Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions. That totals more than $125,000 a year.

Gascón splits the pension with his ex-wife, Mariann, leaving him with $5,350 a month in his pocket after taxes, the spokeswoman said.

Pension reform has become a hot-button issue across the country as struggling municipalities find they can’t afford to pay for the retirement benefits they promised their workers. Gascón supports Proposition C, one of two competing reform measures on the November ballot designed to reduce the high cost of San Francisco's pension plans. The measure is also backed by interim Mayor Ed Lee and city unions.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi supports Proposition D, a more aggressive pension fix. But Adachi, who is also a candidate for mayor, said that he had no qualms with Gascón's pension.

“A person's pocketbook is their personal business, as far as I’m concerned,” Adachi said.

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