Ann M. Ravel
|Ann M. Ravel|
|Chair of the Federal Election Commission|
January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015
|Preceded by||Lee E. Goodman|
|Succeeded by||Matthew S. Petersen|
|Member of the Federal Election Commission|
October 25, 2013 – March 1, 2017
|Nominated by||Barack Obama|
|Preceded by||Cynthia L. Bauerly|
|Born||New York City|
|Alma mater||Hastings Law School, UC Berkeley|
Ravel was appointed by President Obama on June 21, 2013, and, after unanimous confirmation by the United States Senate, took office on October 25, 2013. She was Chair of the Commission for 2015, and Vice Chair in 2014. Ravel announced her resignation from the commission on February 19, 2017, effective on March 1, 2017. Ravel is currently a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
Ravel received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She lives in Los Gatos, California with her husband, Stephen, an independent adoption attorney. She has three children, two granddaughters and one grandson.
Prior to joining the FEC, Ravel was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown in February 2011 to serve as the Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). At the FPPC, Ravel oversaw the regulation of campaign finance, lobbyist registration and reporting, and ethics and conflicts of interest related to officeholders and public employees. In Ravel’s most significant case as Chair, the FPPC pursued a year-long investigation into the methods used by donors who seek to influence political campaigns by anonymous methods. In October 2013, the FPPC fined the Center to Protect Patient Rights and Americans for Responsible Leadership $1 million for forwarding $15 million in "dark money" contributions to a California committee without disclosing the source of those contributions. Ravel testified about the case before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee considering the issue of nondisclosure by political groups on April 30, 2014. While at the FPPC, Ravel sought to leverage technology to "enhance efficiency, improve governance and repair the relationship between the public and their government." To that end, the FPPC adopted regulations to allow political contributions to be made by text message and created an online, searchable database of California public officials’ Statements of Economic Interests. During Ravel’s tenure, the FPPC also released a mobile phone application to track gifts received by public officials and held a hackathon to explore creative options to better disclose the Agency’s public data. As Chair of the FPPC, Ravel created the Regulation Clarification Project, an effort to clarify and streamline California regulations. This project was designed to make the law more understandable to the public, promote easier and less onerous compliance for state and local officials, and ensure that the regulations complied with the governing statutes and courts decisions. Among other changes, the FPPC created guides to analyze gift laws and reorganized the regulations by topic. During her tenure at the FPPC, she established the States Unified Network (SUN) Center, a nonpartisan group of state and local jurisdictions promoting transparency in campaign finance. The group shares enforcement, litigation, and campaign finance data through a public website, which provides nationwide disclosure and aids in enforcement.
Before joining the FPPC, Ravel was Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Torts and Consumer Litigation in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice. She also worked as an attorney in the Santa Clara County Counsel's Office, ultimately serving as the appointed County Counsel from 1998 until 2009. Ravel represented the County and its elected officials, provided advice on the state Political Reform Act, initiated programs in elder abuse litigation, educational rights, and consumer litigation on behalf of the Santa Clara County government and the community, and joined a group of California municipal attorneys suing to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Ravel has served as an elected Governor on the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California, a member of the Judicial Council of California, and Chair of the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. Ravel received the Professional Woman of Achievement Award from the San Jose Mercury News and the Commission on the Status of Women in 1980, the Elizabeth Ent Award for her contributions to law and justice in 1995, and the Circle of Service Achievement Award from the California State Association of Counties in 2004. In 2007, the State Bar of California recognized Ravel’s contributions to public service, naming her Public Attorney of the Year. In 2014, she was named as a California Attorney of the Year by California Lawyer magazine for her contributions to Government law.
On October 24, 2014, Ravel called for "a reexamination of the commission's approach to the internet and other emerging technologies..." "The suggestion on its face should have been non-controversial: 'As a Commission, we need to consider the changing role of technology in our elections and recognize how technology is changing our politics. For that reason, next year, I will bring together technologists, social entrepreneurs, policy wonks, politicos, and activists—from across the spectrum—to discuss new and emerging technologies and how the Commission’s current approach may or may not fit with future innovations.'" Then-FEC chairman, Lee Goodman, "characterized the suggestion as an attempt to regulate speech."
In May 2015, Ravel told the New York Times that it is unlikely that the FEC will be able to regulate the coming 2016 presidential election. "The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim," she told The New York Times. "I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the FEC is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional."
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- "News Release: 2009-03-02 A Public Sector Consensus for Marriage Equality". City and County of San Francisco. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
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