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Ann Ravel, chair of the state's ethics watchdog, today received unanimous approval from a U.S. Senate panel in her quest to join the Federal Election Commission.

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee's action on two of President Obama's nominees clears the way for vote of the full Senate.

"It's nice that it was unanimous, that there weren't any issues today," Ravel told The Bee. "But who knows what's going to happen once it gets to the floor, especially given all of the other issues swirling around."

Ravel's nomination was supported by several California Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda. Support also came from former FPPC Commissioner Ronald Rotunda, a law professor at Chapman University.

Rotunda was among Ravel's harshest public critics upon her nomination to the FPPC.

"I have read criticisms that the FEC staff sometimes exceeds its powers under the law when they initiate investigations without FEC approval," Rotunda wrote in a letter to Rep. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and chairman of the rules committee. "If that criticism is true, I am confident that Ann will treat the staff with the utmost respect while not supporting unsanctioned investigations."

As chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Ravel waged a tough legal battle to uncover the source of an $11 million donation from a mysterious Arizona group. She later backed a stack of unsuccessful bills to curb the practice after the entity in question donated money to a committee opposing Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure and supporting an initiative targeting labor unions.

Ravel worked as a U.S. Justice Department official in Washington when Brown appointed her chair three years ago. The six-member Federal Election Commission administers and enforces the Federal Election Campaign Act.

Ann Ravel, chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission, in her office in December 2012. The Sacramento Bee / Renée C. Byer


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