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Obama picks California watchdog for FEC

SACRAMENTO -- Ann Ravel, California's top campaign finance watchdog, was nominated to the Federal Election Commission by President Obama on Friday.

As chairwoman of the state's Fair Political Practices Commission for the last two years, Ravel has been a consistent critic of the federal government's unwillingness to crack down on secret money in politics.

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She also received nationwide attention for trying to uncover the donors behind an $11-million contribution that was funneled into California campaigns last year by an Arizona-based nonprofit, Americans for Responsible Leadership.

Ravel faced fierce opposition from the organization, whose lawyers accused her of leading a "one-woman media onslaught, rabble-rousing and prejudging, including 'tweeting' her incendiary view."

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Under pressure from California courts, the Arizona organization eventually revealed it received the money from two other nonprofits, a process Ravel referred to as "campaign money laundering." The commission's investigation is ongoing.

More recently,

to find new ways to handle the flood of political donations from organizations that don't reveal their donors.

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Ravel's nomination to the FEC will require Senate confirmation.

"I could not think of a stronger candidate for the FEC than Ann Ravel, but it is a huge loss for the FPPC," wrote UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen on his blog.

Ravel, a Democrat, was nominated alongside Lee Goodman, a Republican and Washington lawyer.

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