Thursday, February 15, 2007
Ross Johnson Appointed Chair of Fair Political Practices Commission
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
Northern California attorney and former veteran California legislative leader Ross Johnson has been appointed chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission, the governor’s office said yesterday.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a release called Johnson “a great advocate” of political reform in California politics, and said he looked forward to working with him.
The 67-year-old Johnson, a Republican, represented Orange County in the state Assembly from 1978 to 1995 and in the state Senate from 1995 to 2004, and was the first person to serve as a party leader in both houses of the Legislature.
As a lawmaker, Johnson authored several bills to tighten campaign finance laws and provide public disclosure of campaign contributions and successfully co-sponsored Proposition 73, which added a chapter to the Political Reform Act. The initiative, which passed in June 1988, included a provision barring public officers from spending and candidates receiving public moneys for the purpose of seeking elective office.
When Los Angeles voters amended the city charter in 1990 by passing Measure H—which provided for partial public funding of city political campaigns, with spending limits on candidates who accept public funds—Johnson sued to enjoin its enforcement, arguing that Prop. 73 barred public financing of campaigns across the state. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the proposition did not prevent Los Angeles from adopting or enforcing the public funding provisions of its local campaign reform measure.
In 2003, Johnson sued former Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante accusing him of using a legal loophole to receive unlimited contributions in his campaign to win the gubernatorial recall election. The Fair Political Practices Commission fined Bustamante $263,000 in April 2004 for violating campaign finance laws.
Johnson has also challenged the California Supreme Court, opposing its imposition of a $175 special assessment on members of the State Bar in December 1998.
He argued that the assessment—issued for the purpose of funding the attorney discipline system after the Legislature failed to authorize the State Bar’s collection of membership fees that year—exceeded the court’s authority. Ultimately, though, lawmakers passed a bill in 1999 restoring the State Bar’s authority to collect membership fees.
Johnson remarked in a statement:
“As chair, I look forward to working to help ensure fair elections, which is the reason the people of California created the FPPC a generation ago.”
The compensation for his position is $127,833.
Also appointed a member of the FPPC is 56-year-old Timothy Hodson, of Sacramento.
Hodson currently works for California State University, Sacramento, where he has been since 1993. He is currently the executive director for the school’s Center for California Studies, and a professor in the department of government and the graduate program in public policy and administration.
A Democrat, Hodson served as staff director for the California Senate Elections and Reapportionment Committee from 1987 to 1993, and as the principal consultant for the California Senate Office of Research from 1983 to 1987. From 1982 to 1983, he was chief of staff for then-Sen. Omer L. Raines.
Hodson’s position does not require Senate confirmation and pays $100 per diem.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company