The chief of California’s campaign watchdog agency abruptly quit Tuesday — just a week before the state’s June 5 primaries.
The departure of Jodi Remke, who in 2014 was appointed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to lead the Fair Political Practices Commission, came amid a power struggle that included efforts to reduce her influence, reports said.
Remke resigned following months of turmoil at the agency, the Los Angeles Times reported. She reportedly clashed frequently with other commissioners, who were expected next week to push for a new structure that would drastically cut Remke’s role as the top political ethics cop in the state.
She was the only full-time official on the commission.
In the resignation letter, Remke celebrated her achievements at the agency, but said she remained “concerned with the proposed changes to the Commission’s longstanding governance structure.”
“I’m confident that during this busy election cycle staff will continue to build on the significant progress we have made in advancing governmental integrity and the public’s trust in government,” she added.
The resignation also coincides with the upcoming statewide primary election next week that typically draws multiple campaign ethics complaints to the agency. It will be seen how Remke’s departure affects the policing of ethics in the election, as the agency has been criticized in the past for slow response to any alleged ethics violations by political candidates.
“Staff is used to and is prepared for the normal process of changes in the Commission as there are always new commissioners and chair every two to four years,” Jay Wierenga, a spokesman for the FPPC, told the Sacramento Bee, adding that Remke will take a position as the presiding administrative law judge for appellate operations for the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
Dan Schnur, who once was an FPPC chair, told the Bee that Remke’s resignation will contribute to the marginalization of the watchdog’s role “in the eyes of the political community.”
“Stepping aside in the last days before an election is in keeping with a very minimalist approach to the job that she’s displayed ever since she was first named chair,” Schnur said.