California's political watchdog agency will consider at its next meeting instituting a five-day delay in publicly releasing information about new investigations and enforcement actions.
The proposed amendment to Fair Political Practices Commission regulations would instruct staff to hold off on telling the public when they've opened an investigation or related enforcement actions until five days after notification is sent to the subject of the probe. The staff would continue to publicly confirm complaints that have been filed alleging violations of the Political Reform Act .
FPPC Executive Director Roman Porter said the move is consistent with new commission Chair Ann Ravel's "efforts to ensure due process for the accused and to institute some fundamental fairness relative to the commission's enforcement actions." Since Ravel was appointed to the post by Gov. Jerry Brown in February, the commission has also rescinded a policy enacted last year to post all investigation notices online.
Porter said the policy is also part of a broader effort to better utilize staff time and other resources amid budget cuts.
"This is in conjunction with other internal efforts to prioritize enforcement issues so that we are able to spend our limited resources on the most egregious violations of the (Political Reform Act)," he said.
The FPPC's current policy to confirm probes once they are launched has been targeted by legislation to require 24 hours notice for investigations subjects. Democratic Sen. Rod Wright, who authored the bill, argued that it is a matter of fairness that a person is aware of the charges he or she faces before being questioned by the press or general public.
The five-member commission will vote on the proposed regulation change at a June 9 meeting in Los Angeles.