Over the years, we’ve detailed the many different ways in which John Arnold attacks public pensions nationwide. He has used more than $50 million of his personal fortune to support anti-pension groups like the Retirement Security Initiative; to promote biased research from organizations such as the Pew Research Center; and to fund anti-pension ballot measures. However, attacking public pensions is not the only thing Arnold does with his fortune. Another issue recently caught the eye of some public employees in California, who are all too familiar with his anti-pension efforts.

John Arnold is also an advocate of bail reform. His foundation has proposed a plan to eliminate the cash bail system in favor of an algorithm-based system that would predict who is most likely to pose a danger to the public if they are granted bail. NPPC does not take any position on bail reform and this blog is not the place to debate the merits of Arnold’s proposal. What is important, though, is to examine closely the way this proposal would benefit Arnold himself.

Senate Bill 10, the proposed legislation that would eliminate cash bail in California, would replace the cash bail system with an algorithm-based system similar to the one proposed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. However, according to the text of the legislation, only his foundation’s system would meet the requirements of the bill. SB 10 would essentially award the Laura and John Arnold Foundation a contract worth tens of millions of dollars a year to implement their system in California. How convenient for the Arnold Foundation that their proposed system is the only one that works according to the proposed legislation they helped to write!

Laura Perez, a member of SEIU Local 721, points out that the millions of dollars Arnold would receive from the state of California could be funneled right back into attacks on pensions –in California. She writes:

“In California alone John Arnold has spent more than $3.3 million to eliminate California’s public employee pensions. Arnold was the leading contributor to former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s failed efforts to put a statewide pension initiative on the ballot, and he also funded the pension-ending ballot initiative in Ventura County.”

The members of the California Legislature should look closely at who benefits from legislation such as SB 10. This bill seems custom-tailored to the wishes of John Arnold.

Perhaps the best quote about John Arnold and his meddling in California comes from Lowell Goodman, communications director for the Southern California chapter of the Service Employees International Union: “It’s the height of narcissism for a Texas billionaire who doesn’t have to worry about his retirement to come into California and try to meddle with the secure retirement of working-class people.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!