SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Records show a member of California's political watchdog commission spoke behind the scenes with state Senate Democrats' lawyer before voting to overturn a longstanding precedent that would have limited fundraising by a Democratic senator facing a recall.

The Fair Political Practices Commission gave initial approval to the change in July, rejecting its own lawyers' analysis and accepting the argument by Democratic attorney Richard Rios. It will allow Democratic Sen. Josh Newman to raise more money to fight the recall.

Documents released under the California Public Records Act show Rios met and communicated with commissioner Brian Hatch before the vote.

Hatch says he did outside research because he doesn't trust the commission staff to provide balanced information. Private communications are not prohibited. But ethics experts say it could spur public distrust.