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A former executive director of the California State Bar will face questions Wednesday about his role in a controversial $95 million software deal that state officials signed with Oracle Corp.

Steven Nissen, until January a top aide in the office of Gov. Gray Davis, is set to testify before a joint legislative committee investigating the scandal-plagued contract.

The 50-year-old attorney is being called because of reports that he hosted a crucial May 24 meeting last year where he pushed for the contract because, he said, California was looking bad in the eyes of the business community, according to a legislative staffer involved in the investigation. At that meeting, the staffer said, it was decided that the state would go ahead with the purchase, which was signed less than a week later.

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