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The state Capitol
The state Capitol (Los Angeles Times)

California’s campaign watchdog agency last year approved a record 340 settlements of cases involving violations of ethics and political finance rules, according to its annual report issued Monday.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission said it collected more than $1.1 million in fines from elected officials, lobbyists, political donors and others in 2017 for issues that included failing to properly report contributions.

“These results hopefully will help restore public confidence in the political process by highlighting that California has strong laws that are vigorously enforced,” said Jodi Remke, the FPPC chairwoman.

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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election

Comedian Patton Oswalt will host a comedy show later this month on behalf of congressional candidate Jess Phoenix, who is running to unseat GOP Rep. Steve Knight in the 25th Congressional District.

Oswalt said friends tipped him off to Phoenix’s candidacy and the two met through Twitter.

While he does not live in the district, Oswalt said he was struck by Phoenix’s knowledge of environmental policy and her refusal to take donations from political action committees or corporations. She is a geologist who runs an educational science nonprofit that researches the Mojave Desert. 

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  • Sexual harassment

A slate of California bills meant to combat sexual harassment in the workplace got a high-profile plug on Hollywood’s biggest night. 

Mira Sorvino, an actress and leading figure in the Times Up movement taking on harassment in the entertainment industry and beyond, highlighted a number of measures making their way through the state Legislature during a red carpet interview at the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

“I want people to know that this movement isn’t stopping,” Sorvino said in an interview on ABC. “We’re going forward until we have an equitable and safe world for women.”

  • Governor's race
Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Getty Images / Associated Press)

Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday challenged his top rival in the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, to a one-on-one debate over the viability of a state-sponsored single-payer healthcare system in California.

The issue has divided the Democratic field of candidates. Newsom and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin have expressed strong support for the proposal, while Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang have expressed doubt that the state can afford it.

“Enough with the slogans — it’s time to show real leadership and have a serious in-depth discussion,” Villaraigosa said in a statement sent to the news media Monday. 

Come January, California will lose the distinction of being home to the richest man in Congress. More than a third of the lawmakers in the state’s congressional delegation are millionaires, and Rep. Darrell Issa’s wealth dwarfs them all.

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Come January, California will lose the distinction of being home to the richest man in Congress. More than a third of the lawmakers in the state’s congressional delegation are millionaires, and Rep. Darrell Issa’s wealth dwarfs them all.

  • California in Congress

A group of Oakland-area students this weekend stood alongside major civil rights figures as part of the Faith and Politics Institute Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage tied to the anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was among those beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, asked the students for the first time to play an active role in the events by giving speeches and presentations. 

“Especially as a young person, we don’t get this type of exposure just in school,” Laelah Jackson, 16, of Berkeley said in an interview.

  • Governor's race
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the California Democratic Party convention.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the California Democratic Party convention. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Wealthy Hollywood producer Steve Bing is teaming up with other entertainment bigwigs to host a fundraiser this month for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s campaign for governor.

The event’s co-hosts include Peter Chernin, producer of the blockbuster movie “Black Panther,” and Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos. The fundraiser is being held March 14 at the Crossroads restaurant in Los Angeles.

Suggested contributions range from $1,000 to $10,000.

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The lone candidate for a U.S House seat the Democrats consider a prime pickup opportunity for the midterms is ending his congressional bid.

The lone candidate for a U.S House seat the Democrats consider a prime pickup opportunity for the midterms is ending his congressional bid.