New director for state political ethics watchdog

A San Francisco law professor has been named the Fair Political Practices Commission‘s new executive director, the FPPC’s chairman announced Friday.

Michael B. Salerno comes to the agency from being associate director of the Center for State and Local Government Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where he teaches courses on legislation, the legislative process, and statutory interpretation. He is an expert on governmental ethics, conflicts of interests, political law and government rulemaking — which is good, because that’s what the FPPC is all about.

His time at Hastings — where he has taught since 1999 — overlapped with his 1979-to-2005 stint as an attorney in the California Legislative Counsel Bureau; he was principal deputy legislative counsel from 1990 until 2003, providing legal advice to legislative committees focused on campaign finance reform, redistricting, elections, education and other issues. In 1989-1990, he took a one-year leave from the Legislative Counsel Bureau to serve as chief counsel to the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, International Trade, and Technology.

He was an adjunct and visiting professor at the UC-Davis School of Law from 1993 until 1996 and a Fulbright Scholar in Italy in 1995, hosted by Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali (LUISS) in Rome. He holds a law degree from Davis and a bachelor’s degree from UC-Santa Barbara. While in law school, he served on the University of California Board of Regents in 1977 and 1978. And before law school, he served as a consultant to the California State Senate and was a principal drafter of the Uniform Determinate Sentencing Act of 1976.

Salerno replaces Mark Krausse, who is leaving the FPPC to assume the post of director of state agency relations for Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed a new chairman and a new member to the commission last month.

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.