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By Laurel Rosenhall
Published: Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

California’s political watchdog agency is moving to crack down on lobbying rules that have allowed interest groups to hire former politicians as consultants and launch ad campaigns to push their agenda with virtually no financial disclosure.

Ann Ravel, chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission, said Thursday that she has assigned a working group to take on issues raised by a Bee investigation last month.

Interest groups that spend the most money trying to influence policy in California’s Capitol spend the bulk of it in secret, The Bee found, because disclosure forms allow them to report huge sums in a catch-all “other” category that requires no detailed reporting to authorities.

“We’re going to make it a fairly broad mission to look at any issues relating to lobbying that should be cleaned up with respect to the payments – things included that shouldn’t be, and lack of clarification – as well as any other matters that are in the scope of the FPPC’s authority,” Ravel said.

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