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WCAB Member Admits Friendship With Gov. Brown Landed Him His Job

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 | 1271 | 3 | 26 min read

California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board member Juan Pedro Gaffney acknowledged in an article posted by the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday that he was appointed to the six-figure job solely because of his longtime friendship with Gov. Jerry Brown.

Juan Pedro Gaffney

Juan Pedro Gaffney

“What shall I do, should I not plead guilty?” he said when asked by a Chronicle reporter. “Yeah, I’m a friend of Jerry’s. We go way back. Jerry knew me when I was active in social action and politics. He didn’t forget that part of me.”

Brown appointed Gaffney to the post after he spent 40 years directing the Coro Hispano de San Francisco, a classical and folk music chorus than sings in Spanish. WorkCompCentral reported previously that he and Brown both graduated from St. Ignatius College Preparatory school, a Jesuit high school in San Francisco, in 1955.

Gaffney, who is 80, told the Chronicle that he is aware that others hoped for the appointment. The position pays $147,778 annually, according to the newspaper.

“I did not understand this to be a plum,” he said. “I did not go after it as a plum. To me it is hard work and I am glad to do the hard work, but others have given me to understand that they were passed by to accommodate this appointment or at least that this appointment passed them by. I am aware of that. What can I say? I’m sensitive to it. I realize it’s a legitimate sentiment, a legitimate reaction.”

Gaffney said he is working 10-hour days learning about the workers’ compensation system.

By law, five of the seven WCAB members must be attorneys. Gaffney fills one of two positions that can be filled by non-attorneys. The other position is still open.

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