Jerry Brown

One of the 33 bills signed by Gov. Brown on Tuesday will create a database for annual disclosure reports that can be accessed by the public on one website.

By Patrick McGreevy and Anthony York
October 8, 2013, 7:35 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday to give Californians a better peek into the wallets of their elected officials and to provide the state’s ethics watchdog agency with more tools to hold politicians accountable for misconduct.

Hundreds of thousands of public officials, from city council members to state bureaucrats, are required to file annual reports disclosing their personal finances — including investments and the gifts they receive — so the public can determine whether they pose a conflict of interest.

Currently, most public officials file their reports on paper and the documents are scattered among hundreds of city halls and other government buildings so they are often difficult for the public to access.

The governor signed a bill by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) that allows the state Fair Political Practices Commission to develop a statewide electronic database where officials can file their disclosure reports for access by the public on one website.

“This landmark bill will revolutionize the ability to hold public officials accountable across the state,” said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the commission.

The governor also signed a bill that gives the commission more power to enforce violations of state conflict-of-interest laws. AB 1090 by Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) expands the powers to include conflicts involving contracts. Ravel called the bill a “significant milestone in the development of ethics laws in California.”

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