Sacramento ethics law getting long-due overhaul

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After 42 years of regulating the state’s political ethics, with countless updates and tweaks, the Political Reform Act is due for an overhaul — and stakeholders are set to begin the process next week.

On Thursday, July 14, Fair Political Practices Commission Chair Jodi Remke and John Mayer, president and CEO of California Forward (a government and political reform advocacy group), will host a webinar to kick off the first of two rounds of public participation to create a comprehensive overhaul of the act.

Incumbents and candidates complain of an overly complicated system. The FPPC receives between 15,000-to-20,000 requests every year for advice from candidates and public officials.

Numerous legislative and voter-approved updates have left an “overly complex, cumbersome and sometimes contradictory” law, Remke said.

“This process is designed to simplify and streamline the act without weakening it or losing any accountability,” Remke said.

Law students at UC Berkeley and UC Davis have also contributed to the process by reviewing the law and making recommendations to the FPPC. And California Forward will help raise public awareness of the coalition’s efforts.

The Political Reform Act was passed in 1974, just two months before President Richard Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal, with the protracted scandal highlighting the need for political ethics legislation.

The law created the FPPC and regulated campaign finance, among other things. The original ballot summary is here:

“Requires reports of receipts and expenditures in campaigns for state and local offices and ballot measures. Limits expenditures for statewide candidates and measures. Prohibits public officials from participating in governmental decisions affecting their ‘financial interests.’ Requires disclosure of certain assets and income by certain public officials. Requires ‘Lobbyists’ to register and file reports showing receipts and expenditures in lobbying activities. Creates fair political practices commission. Revises ballot pamphlet requirements. Provides criminal and civil sanctions for violations. Enacts and repeals statutes on other miscellaneous and above matters.”

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  1. askeptic says

    The history of “political reform” since the end of WW2 has been an exercise in incumbent protection to further allow their depredation of the taxpayers.

  2. Lets make it simple. No politician can accept a gift from anyone worth more than $10. While in office no xmas presents or birthday presents from anyone worth more than $10 or they get fired and lose their pensions and banned from every working for any govt again. If they are charged with and arrested for a crime they are immediately suspended without pay. If found innocent they are reinstated with back pay. If found guilty they are immediately fired, lose their pension, and banned from ever working in any govt job ever again.

  3. The CA Bar (like the ABA) is ‘revising’ its Rules of Professional Conduct – to Prevent Attorneys from even Representing Persons of Conscience, if that Conscience is deemed Politically Incorrect in our One Party State.

    Basically it is a ‘No More Scalias / Never Again Proposition 8’ Rule Change, designed to prevent the Un-Good from obtaining a Lawyer, or punish and Disbar any lawyer who would Defend Said Un-Good
    Interested Persons:

    The State Bar Board of Trustees will meet on June 23rd in Los Angeles to consider a request to circulate 68 proposed new and amended Rules of Professional Conduct developed by the Rules Revision Commission, for a 90-day public comment period.
    It is anticipated that the public comment period will run from late June to late September. The public comment proposal and associated materials will be posted at the State Bar’s public comment webpage during the week of June 27th.

    The public comment notice will provide a link to a public comment form where public comments can be uploaded. We request that you utilize this form to submit your rule comments as this will facilitate timely processing of your comments.

    A public hearing to receive oral comment on the proposed rules is also scheduled for July 26, 2016, with locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    We will continue to communicate instructions for providing public comment and details about the public hearing via this email group.

    Lauren McCurdy | Sr. Administrative Specialist
    Office of Professional Competence
    The State Bar of California | 180 Howard St. | San Francisco, CA 94105
    415.538.2107 |

  4. What a joke! Ethics in Sacramento? Give me a break!

    Google “Two Minute Conservative” for more.

  5. Thanks for the insights. I learned a lot about ethics law.

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