Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"California political watchdog sets sights on major cases"

A nice profile of the FPPC, and outgoing Chair (future FEC Commissioner) Ann Ravel. 

Here is an excerpt:

Last fall, the panel sought to discover the source of $11 million in contributions from a mysterious Arizona group to oppose Brown’s tax increase ballot measure and support a campaign finance initiative challenging the political dominance of labor unions. In November, the commission won a lawsuit forcing the group to reveal that the donor was from Virginia. The FPPC and state Attorney General Kamala Harris are still investigating to learn the names of the financial backers.
“The Arizona case showed Californians and it showed members of the public throughout the country the shell game that corporations can play when they want to spend money in politics,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “But it also presented a real opportunity for people to try to reform that influence. What people woke up to was the head of California’s watchdog was actually pushing for this before the case and literally was at theCalifornia Supreme Court at midnight filing briefs.”
Last month, the agency moved swiftly to unmask the mystery donor behind a signature-gathering effort to force a public vote on city financial aid for a new arena for the Sacramento Kings. Under the legal scrutiny, Seattle investor Chris Hansen acknowledged contributing $100,000 to the petition drive.

Read more here:

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