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FPPC names new executive director

California’s political ethics watchdog agency has hired a new executive director – straight out of Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

The Fair Political Practices Commission on Friday named Erin Peth, 36, of Sacramento, as its new executive director, following a nationwide search.

“Her years of experience with the Political Reform Act and with state government will serve the FPPC well,” said FPPC Chairwoman Ann Ravel, who may be departing soon – President Obama recently nominated her to the Federal Election Commission. “Erin’s commitment to the Commission’s goals and ability to build coalitions among interested parties will be extremely beneficial as the Commission continues to increase transparency in the political process and clarify our ethics laws.”

Peth has served since 2011 as deputy legal affairs secretary in the governor’s office, where she counseled public officials on governmental ethics, conflicts of interest, and transparency.

From 2007 to 2011, she was a deputy attorney general in the California Department of Justice, where she advised constitutional officers and high-level state officials on compliance with the Political Reform Act’s provisions and other laws. She was an editor of the 2010 Attorney General’s Conflicts of Interest Guide and was on the team that prosecuted the first enforcement action involving electronic voting machines, which resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement for the state.

Earlier, Peth was an attorney with the Sacramento firm of Olson, Hagel & Fishburn from 2003 to 2007, counseling clients and litigating cases on election, political, campaign finance, and governmental matters – including at least one lawsuit against the very agency she’s now going to lead.

A Sacramento native and a Democrat, Peth earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and public relations from Marquette University and a law degree from King Hall at the University of California, Davis.

Peth’s annual salary in the governor’s office was $108,481 as of last year. I’ve not yet received a response to my inquiry about what her FPPC salary will be.

UPDATE AT 2:28 p.m.: Ravel says Peth’s salary “has not been determined yet. I believe the range is between $140,000 and $155,000 (approximately).”

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.

  • Elwood

    Why does this fill me with trepidation?

    Brown has a history of mistitling propositions, writing misleading ballot descriptions, refusing to defend the will of the people and just generally gutter politics.

    He is a scumbag. She is a professional bureaucrat and Brown sycophant.

  • JohnW

    What do you really think, Elwood?

    I have to admit that Jerry lost points with me over the Public Records Act business. Not that I think we would have been any better off under Meg.

  • JESUS ARREDONDO

    Erin Peth is a solid choice to lead the FPPC. I think that Governor Brown got this right.