- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on the action by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

A panel that oversees campaigns and lobbying in California has finalized a $100,000 fine for a company accused of laundering campaign contributions.

The steep fine approved Thursday is an outlier among penalties the Fair Political Practices Commission approves on a monthly basis, most of which are less than $5,000.

The FPPC and City of Oakland Public Ethics Commission found the AB&I; Foundry plumbing system manufacturer funneled about $24,000 in campaign contributions through 17 employees and their spouses.

The funds ultimately went to four candidates of Oakland mayor and two candidates for city council.

AB&I; signed paperwork admitting to the laundering charges and agreeing to pay the fine.

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11:45 a.m.

California’s political watchdogs have approved a state rule aiming to crack down on lobbyists who fail to disclose their efforts to influence government officials.

The Fair Political Practices Commission passed a regulatory change Thursday that requires suspected lobbyists to provide evidence showing whether they’re being paid to influence government officials. If they don’t, the agency will automatically decide they’re in violation of state transparency laws.

Chairwoman Jodi Remke and staff attorneys say previous investigations have been stymied because probes end when an alleged unregistered lobbyist simply says they do not qualify as such.

Commissioner Gavin Wasserman echoed critics’ concerns that the change gives the agency an unfair advantage since it is the accuser as well as the judge.

Ultimately, Wasserman supported the overall aim of the rule. Commissioners voted 5-0 to pass it.

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12:00 a.m.

California’s top political watchdog is championing a bid to crack down on lobbyists who fail to disclose their efforts to influence government officials.

The Fair Political Practices Commission is scheduled to consider a proposal Thursday supported by commission chairwoman Jodi Remke allowing state regulators to require suspected lobbyists to provide evidence showing whether they are paid to influence government officials.

Critics say the proposal would illegally require alleged unregistered lobbyists to prove their innocence.

Lobbyists are required to report how much they’re paid for communicating with government officials when the amount reaches $2,000 in a given month.

But Remke says many don’t and that stricter enforcement is needed to identify them.

People accused of being unregistered lobbyists would have to provide evidence their compensation was not used to influence public policy.

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