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Jerry Brown taps two for state campaign finance watchdog agency

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday appointed a high-level federal attorney to become chairwoman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which oversees and enforces the state’s campaign finance and ethics laws.

Brown named Ann Ravel of Los Gatos to the chair position, and former federal prosecutor Sean Eskovitz of Santa Monica to a second seat on the five-person commission.

Good-government advocates said they did not know enough about the appointees to characterize how aggressive they would be in enforcing ethics laws, but generally praised them both for having solid backgrounds.

Ravel is the former county counsel for Santa Clara County, a job that included advising elected officials on state political conduct rules, noted Jessica Levinson, a director at the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies.

"It seems like he [Brown] appointed someone who has a lot of applicable experience," Levinson said. "She seems to have a deep understanding of the Political Reform Act, which is what she will be working with."

Ravel, 61, has been deputy assistant attorney general for Torts and Consumer Litigation in the United States Department of Justice since 2009. Her new state job pays $132,179.

The Democrat replaces Republican Dan Schnur, who was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schnur has said he wanted to end his term with the change in administrations so he could go back to his job as director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

Ravel has also served on the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, the Judicial Council of California, the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California and the Hispanic National Bar Assn.

Eskovitz, 40, is a Republican and replaces Schwarzenegger appointee Timothy A. Hodson, a Democrat.

The new commissioner is a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. He served as an assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1999 to 2003, where he prosecuted cases involving financial and bank fraud, money-laundering and public corruption.

"You can’t get someone with a more sterling pedigree," Levinson said.

The governor has two appointments to the commission, with the second required to be from a different political party than the chair. Brown also appointed Lynn Montgomery to the commission when he was attorney general. The other two commissioners are appointed by the controller and secretary of state.

-- Patrick McGreevy

 

 

 
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