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State ethics agency gets acting executive director

February 3, 2012 |  2:46 pm

A veteran attorney for the state’s political watchdog agency has been named acting executive director, addressing concern by some good-government activists that the position had long been vacant.

John W. Wallace, who has been the state Fair Political Practices Commission’s assistant general counsel, was approved by the panel to serve as its top staffer on an interim basis without any increase in pay.

"He is someone who is very well respected and knows a lot about the Political Reform Act," commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel said on Friday.

Ravel had been under pressure from groups including California Common Cause to fill the post, which is required by state statute, ever since former Executive Director Roman Porter left in October. Initially, Ravel divided up the duties of the post between herself and other senior staffers.

"It's good that an interim executive director has been appointed because it's a big job and we're entering into a big election year, so we need somebody who can focus full time,'' said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause.

Budget problems have prevented the commission from appointing a more permanent executive director, Ravel said. But she hopes the panel can make a more permanent appointment in July when the new budget year begins.

Wallace, 51, said his priorities including efforts to improve the commission's educational role about state regulations. He has worked for the state for 23 years.

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--Patrick McGreevy, in Sacramento

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