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Under Ann Ravel, state’s political watchdog losing its bark

Thursday, February 16, 2012

imageWith public confidence in state lawmakers at an all-time low (approval ratings have hit single digits in at least one survey), now would seem to be an odd time for the state Fair Political Practices Commission to go soft. Yet that’s the trend line under commission chairwoman and former Santa Clara County counsel Ann Ravel, appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown a year ago. She has some good-government advocates seeing red, the LA Times says. An excerpt:

As part of a top-to-bottom rewrite of regulations in the last year, the Fair Political Practices Commission has eased restrictions on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers, scaled back its open meetings and stopped notifying the public of pending investigations.

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"I think the agenda is to basically castrate the commission," said fellow Commissioner Ronald Rotunda, a Chapman University law professor appointed by the state controller.

The irony of the FPPC’s weakening under Brown: He co-authored the Political Reform Act voters approved in 1974 to create it in the first place.


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