FPPC gets new enforcement chief

Galena West, a veteran lawyer at the Fair Political Practices Commission, has been named chief of enforcement at the agency, which serves as the state’s campaign ethics watchdog.

West replaces Gary Winuk, who left earlier to go into private practice. West, who has been on the FPPC staff for 10 years, has served as acting enforcement chief since March.

The five-member FPPC enforces California’s Political Reform Act, which was created in the wake of the Watergate scandals in Washington, D.C. The commission targets political money laundering, failure to disclose campaign donations, shadow lobbying and registration violations, among other issues. The commission can levy civil fines and, in some cases, turns evidence it gathers over to state or federal prosecutors.

“She has prosecuted some of the most serious violations of the Political Reform Act, ranging from campaign money laundering to conflicts of interest to shadow lobbying,” according to a statement released by the FPPC.

“Her expertise has been invaluable in many high profile cases, including prosecuting all committees related to Proposition 8, the lobbying case involving a well‐known Sacramento‐based lobbying firm, a cluster of cases involving virtually the entire city of Oxnard in coordination with the Ventura County District Attorney’s office, and the arbitration and settlement of a civil case for campaign violations by the Democratic National Committee,” the statement said.

FPPC chair Jodi Remke said West “will help reinforce California’s role as a national leader in the regulation of governmental ethics.”

Prior to the FPPC, West worked as a law clerk at state Franchise Tax Board, served in the state Attorney General’s Office and at the civil division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

West’s appointment follows that of Hyla P. Wagner as General Counsel of the FPPC. Wagner was previously a senior counsel in the FPPC’s Legal Division where she has focused on campaign finance and ethics laws. Before that, she served at the New York City Campaign Finance Board as a staff counsel and chief policy analyst. Wagner also worked at the New York City office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky and Walker, and in the Washington, D.C. office of Congressman Anthony C. Beilenson. Wagner is the wife of Benjamin Wagner, the U.S. attorney in Sacramento.

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