State political watchdog gets new chairman

With political reform high on his list of second-term priorities, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the appointment of James “Ross” Johnson as chairman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, an agency meant to provide fair, impartial interpretation and enforcement of political campaign, lobbying and conflict of interest laws.

ross-johnson.gifJohnson, 67, whom the governor called “a great advocate of political reform,” represented Orange County in the state Legislature for 26 years — in the 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 chambers. He authored several bills to tighten campaign finance laws and increase public disclosure of contributions, and in 1988 he authored the first ballot proposition approved by California voters to limit campaign contributions.

Johnson also was the person who filed an FPPC complaint against — and later sued — then-Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante for moving about $4 million in large checks through an old campaign account to skirt new state contribution limits during the 2003 gubernatorial recall race. Bustamante, of course, finished a distant second to Schwarzenegger in that special election. Johnson, a Republican, will earn $127,833 a year in this new post.

tim-hodson.jpgSchwarzenegger also announced the appointment of Timothy Hodson as an FPPC member. Hodson, 56, of Sacramento, has worked for Sacramento State since 1993, where he’s now the Center for California Studies’ executive director as well as a professor in the government department and in the public policy and administration graduate program. From 1987 to 1993, he was a staff director for the state Senate Elections and Reapportionment Committee; earlier yet, he was principal consultant for the state Senate Office of Research from 1983 to 1987 and chief of staff for Senator Omer Raines from 1982 to 1983. A Democrat, he’ll be paid $100 per day when engaged in FPPC activities.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.