The California Public Employees' Retirement System yesterday announced that private equity chief Real Desrochers is stepping down, effective this Friday, in order to join an unidentified "overseas investment bank."

Why it matters: CalPERS is the nation's largest investor in private equity funds, with $26.4 billion in exposure through the end of its most recent fiscal year. But it has made major strategy changes under Desrochers, who joined in 2011 after several years of private equity-related scandal at the public pension giant. One has been to hold a very tough line on fees, which has saved CalPERS money in some cases and cost it lucrative contracts in others. Another has been to begin consolidating the pension's number of outside manager relationships, while committing more money to select managers.

Controversy: Desrochers came under fire in late 2015 (including by yours truly), after providing inaccurate information during a public board hearing.

Timing: Axios has learned that the CalPERS board learned abut Desrochers' resignation less than an hour before a public statement was made. Moreover, while CalPERS named Desrochers deputy Sarah Corr as interim private equity head, there has been no decision made yet on whether or not to launch a formal search for his successor. Instead, a spokesman says that the system will "evaluate the position as they discuss the role of private equity... [which] will be discussed at our board meeting the week of April 17." It is worth noting that this sort of search process at CalPERS can be launched without prior board approvbal.

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U.S. policy shift will allow taxpayer funding for projects in West Bank settlements

Friedman (L) with Netanyahu. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel will announce tomorrow that they are expanding three agreements on scientific cooperation to include Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is a substantial policy shift for the U.S., which did not previously allow its taxpayers' money to be spent in the Israeli settlements.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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McConnell: Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will help GOP retain Senate

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed no regrets about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's controversial confirmation, telling Politico in an interview that he believes the decision to place her on the Supreme Court just a week before the election will help Republicans retain the Senate.

Why it matters: With a week to go until Election Day, many Republicans are concerned that President Trump's unpopularity could cost them the Senate. McConnell has long viewed the transformation of the federal judiciary through the confirmation of young conservative judges as his defining legacy.

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