The bill is one of several proposals pushed forward by lawmakers after outside groups poured millions of dollars into California's initiative wars in 2012.
Assembly Bill 800, by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, allows the FPPC to begin audits and investigations or to seek injunctions before — rather than after — an election occurs.
Gordon has said the bill would allow the FPPC to act more aggressively, "clearing up concerns about campaigns in real time," and the FPPC cheered the bill's enactment Thursday.
"Today California took a big step towards ensuring that campaign laws are followed before the election, when it matters," Erin Peth, the FPPC's executive director, said in a prepared statement.
The FPPC was at the center of a campaign finance controversy two years ago, probing a network of out-of-state groups that moved money to California to support Proposition 32 — a ballot initiative designed to weaken the political influence of labor unions — and oppose Proposition 30, Brown's initiative to raise taxes.
The California Political Attorneys Association opposed the measure, saying it failed to provide due process protections and is unfair to campaign committees and nonprofit groups under the FPPC scrutiny.
The bill also tightens restrictions around how "subagents," such as purchasers of campaign TV and radio airtime, report their spending.
While Brown signed one campaign finance bill, the author of another, Sen. Lou Correa, is seeking to revive his.
Correa, D-Santa Ana, moved Thursday to amend a bill that would have required nonprofit groups to identify their donors if contributions hit certain benchmarks. The bill was blocked last month by Senate Republicans who objected to an urgency clause allowing the bill to take effect before the upcoming election.
PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills in Sacramento on March 24, 2011 as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco look on. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua