Chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission: Who Is Jodi Remke?

Thursday, April 24, 2014
Judge Joann M. “Jodi” Remke

With three state senators in deep trouble with the law and campaign finance shenanigans popping up at every turn, Governor Jerry Brown turned to the courts for the next chair of the state's primary political ethics watchdog.

Brown nominated Judge Joann M. “Jodi” Remke, 48, to head the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), which enforces election laws and investigates any wrongdoing associated with the election process. She replaces Ann Ravel, a Brown appointee who left last year after being appointed to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by President Barack Obama.

Ravel received mixed reviews as FPPC chair, lauded for leading the crackdown on secret money in last year’s election but criticized by some for siding with lobbyists and politicians to weaken the oversight system. She received national attention for tracking down the source of $11 million that was belatedly dumped into California campaigns last year by a shadowy Arizona-based non-profit organization with ties to the ultra-conservative billionaire Koch brothers.

The FPPC has been without a chairperson for more than six months although California's Political Reform Act requires that vacancies be filled within 30 days.

Remke received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1987. She was admitted to the bar in 1992 after receiving her Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge Law School the year before. She then served as a legal advocate on housing issues, was a legal services attorney and practiced real estate law with the firm of Miller, Starr & Regalia in Oakland.

Remke joined the Montana Legal Services Association in 1994 and worked there for a year representing clients in domestic violence cases, on behalf of the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program.

She left to become a staff attorney for the state Senate Judiciary Committee in 1997, where she advised its members on issues of real property, civil procedure and family and consumer protection law. Remke was its principal staff on legislation that created California's Department of Child Support Services

She was  appointed to a four-year term to the State Bar Court in December 2000 by the Senate Rules Committee, which was chaired by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton. The independent court, the only one of its kind in the country, hears cases about attorneys who have been accused of professional misconduct.

Her appointment was the first after legislation promoted by Burton revamped the court and its selection process. The Supreme Court used to make all appointments to the court, but now shares that task with the governor and Legislature.  

Remke was reappointed to the court in 2004 and was supervising judge of its Hearing Department in 2004 and 2005.  The Supreme Court appointed her presiding judge of the State Bar Court in 2006. She was reappointed to the court in 2012. She was elected president of the National Council of Lawyer Disciplinary Boards in February, with her term set to begin in July.

The FPPC position, which pays $136,144 a year, does not require state Senate confirmation.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Jerry Brown Appoints Jodi Remke New FPPC Chair (by David Siders, Sacramento Bee)

Judge Jodi Remke Appointed to Head California Ethics Watchdog Agency (by Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times)

Governor Appoints Judge to Oversee Watchdog Agency (Associated Press)

Governor Brown Appoints FPPC Chair (Office of the California Governor)

S.C. Names Remke Bar Court Presiding Judge (by Tina Bay, Metropolitan News-Enterprise)

5 Judges Named to State Bar Court (by Nancy McCarth, California Bar Journal)

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