State watchdog unveils online complaint system


Published:
Source: Taryn Luna, Sacramento Bee

State watchdog unveils online complaint system

State watchdog unveils online complaint system

Sacramento Bee

By Taryn Luna

10/12/16

With less than a month until the election, the state’s political watchdog unveiled a new online system Wednesday intended to make it easier to file complaints against sleazy politicians and corrupt campaigns.

“The electronic complaint system is just one step in our efforts to improve our use of technology at the agency,” said Jodi Remke, chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. “With the election we do get a surge in complaints and we’re excited to roll this out now.”

The agency receives more than 2,000 complaints a year accusing politicians and campaigns of laundering money, hiding the source of donations, failing to file timely reports, or breaking a slew of other laws related to political activities. Complaints typically increase in the weeks and days leading up to an election.

Until now, the enforcement team at the FPPC manually entered each complaint into an in-house electronic system. The new tool reduces the red tape and allows complainants to file their grievance directly on the agency’s website.  

Remke said the online system will allow the agency to use staff time more efficiently
and look into complaints quicker than in the past.

The new system is part of an ongoing effort at the FPPC to bring its dated technology up to speed and simplify rules and regulations. 

The agency is in the midst of a project to rewrite California’s Political Reform Act, which governs campaign finance, lobbying activity, ethics and conflicts of interest. The FPPC commissioned UC Berkeley and UC Davis law students to study the act and suggest recommendations to increase compliance earlier this year. The agency issued a draft of proposed changes and is accepting comments from the public until Oct. 31.