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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Professor Michael Salerno on the Evolution of State's FPPC

Michael Salerno of the Legislation Clinic talks about the agency's new combative approach in the Sept. 22, 2013 Sacramento Bee.
Michael Salerno

When the California Fair Political Practices Commission levied hefty fines last week against three well-connected partners in a prominent Sacramento public affairs firm, it capped a string of high-profile cases that underscore the commission’s combative new approach under ethics chief Ann Ravel.

Under the chairmanship of Ravel, a Brown appointee, and her chief enforcer, Gary Winuk, the agency has become more proactive, significantly increasing the number of investigations it initiates.

Although criticism of the agency persists, it may have peaked shortly after Ravel took the reins and removed from the commission website an image of a massive gorilla clawing at a Capitol building awash in money. (She said it was in poor taste.) A former executive there said at the time he hoped the gorilla would not be replaced with a picture of an ostrich with its head in the sand.

“It made me very suspicious” of her approach, said Michael Salerno, a former FPPC executive director and professor at UC Hastings College of the Law. “Those suspicions really have been set aside.”

Read the full story in the Sacramento Bee here.

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