A state watchdog agency recently indicated that bond counsel firms under most circumstances cannot be subjected to stringent disclosure requirements under the state Political Reform Act of 1974.

The five-member Fair Political Practices Commission will finalize its position in October or November, a spokeswoman said.

Commissioners who met Aug. 12 in Sacramento agreed after a three-hour discussion to exclude bond counsel, engineers, architects, and financial advisers from most consultant disclosure regulations.

Stan Wolcott, a partner of Rutan & Tucker in Costa Mesa and president of the California Association of Bond Lawyers, said the exclusion means that bond counsel would not routinely be required to file stringent annual disclosure reports - the same reports public officials file under conflict-of-interest provisions of the Political Reform Act.

Wolcott said commission members indicated it would be an impossible task to craft a "bright line" regulation to exclude most consultants from disclosure requirements, but require some consultants in certain situations to disclose. The commissioners said formulating such a regulation would require staff members to write endless advice letters interpreting the regulation.

However, Wolcott said there would be disclosure requirements for bond counsel who offer consultant services under a city attorney or general counsel retainer agreement.

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