Appellate Court Rules in Favor of Keeping UC Financial Investment Records Private


An Alameda County appellate court ruled last month that the University of California is not compelled to publicize information on the investment performance of its venture capital funds under the California Public Records Act.

The decision reversed a February 2013 ruling in favor of a lawsuit filed against the UC by news agency Reuters America, a branch of Thomson Reuters Corp. The suit argued that investment returns for the UC’s $11.23 billion dollar endowment fund fall within the scope of the CPRA and must therefore be disclosed upon request.

The UC Regents countered that because the information is handled by private venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, it is not covered by the law and the university itself does not have full access to the data in question.

Judge Evelio Grillo, who wrote the Dec. 19 decision on behalf of the four judge panel, sided with the UC Regents’ claim that the CPRA should not apply since the university does not have full control over the documents.

“Although the documents currently requested contain the same type of financial information that the Regents were ordered to disclose under the CPRA 10 years ago, nothing in the CPRA suggests that particular categories of documents are public documents,” Grillo stated in his decision.

According to Grillo, Reuters’ argument is “unpersuasive” because there is no reason for the documents to be considered public records under the CPRA.

“The particular documents requested are not being prepared, owned, used or retained by the public agency,” Grillo stated.

In addition to repealing the original decision, the panel ordered Reuters to cover the UC Regents’ court fees. Reuters will have an opportunity to appeal the court’s verdict, but it has not yet stated any intention of doing so.

UC Office of the President spokesperson Dianne Klein said she was pleased with the decision and claimed Reuters only requested the information out of self-interest, rather than the interest of the public.

“Reuters wanted this information for their own financial benefit because they are in the business of selling such information,” Klein said. “They could not get it from Sequoia Capital nor Kleiner Perkins, so they attempted to get it through us. And the court ruled in our favor … and agreed on all of our points.”

A spokesperson for Sequoia Capital as well as one for Thomson Reuters declined to comment, and Kleiner Perkins could not be reached for comment.


A version of this story appeared on page 3 of Thursday, January 9, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.