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Campaign finance rule enforcement stepped up in San Bernardino County

July 24, 2012 | 12:44 pm


Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday authorized the state’s political watchdog agency to become the lead enforcer for new campaign finance rules in San Bernardino County, which has been plagued by public corruption scandals.

Brown signed into law a bill by Assemblyman Paul Cook's (R-Yucca Valley) that allows the state Fair Political Practices Commission to contract with the county to become the lead enforcement agency on local campaign finance rules.

The County Board of Supervisors earlier this year gave its intention to adopt campaign contribution limits identical to those for state legislators -- $3,900 per contributor — but Cook and county officials thought it would be a conflict of interest to have the county enforce the local campaign restrictions.

"Without adequate enforcement, campaign finance rules are toothless,'' Cook said Tuesday. "The FPPC is a proven watchdog agency, with 40 years of experience in rooting out abuses and violations of campaign finance law.'' By assisting the county, the bill "will help prevent corruption."

Last year, a former county supervisor and two county staffers were indicted as part of an investigation into bribery and misappropriation of public funds.

Ann Ravel, the chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, said the state agency’s involvement is needed to enforce new local ordinances there. "Given the history of serious troubles that they have had in San Bernardino County, I think the desire was to get a state agency that is uniquely neutral as enforcer of campaign finance rules," she said.

--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday approved a measure stepping up campaign finance rules enforcement in San Bernardino County. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images