SACRAMENTO— A new report published by Sierra Club California reveals that all Republican legislators in the State Legislature received oil and gas money in 2019-20.
The first installment of the Club’s Tracking the Dirty Dollars” Project, released in November 2020, focused on 28 Democratic legislators who usually have difficulty voting for bills that would reduce dependence on or pollution from oil and gas activities.
That report found that about $2.1 million flowed from oil and gas interests and their allies directly to the legislators whose receipts the Sierra Club analyzed. The project also found that the Governor Newsom took $97,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry in 2019-20: Report Overview.
This data doesn’t include the millions that the oil and gas industry spent on lobbyists and advertising to influence legislation. You can find that information here in my article: www.elkgrovenews.net/...
The February 2021 Update to Sierra Club California’s Tracking the Dirty Dollars Project added in all legislative Republicans and the members of each house newly elected in November. A May installment will add in the rest of the Democratic legislators, along with the Governor.
“This latest report reveals that Republican state legislators, including newly elected state legislators, all received campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry during the 2019-2020 reporting period,” according to the Club.
Returning Republican Assemblymember Steven Choi benefited from over $100,000 in independent expenditures from the Chevron-backed PAC “Keeping Californians Working, a Coalition of Housing Providers, Energy and Insurance Agents.”
“At the same time, the update shows that nearly all of the Democratic legislators serving for their first time in their new house received no oil and gas industry contributions--with one exception,” the Club said.
“Newly elected Assembly members Steve Bennett, Alex Lee and Dave Min reported no Dirty Dollars in their campaigns,” the report revealed. “Returning Senator Josh Newman also ran a campaign sans Dirty Dollars along with Senator Monique Limon (a champion for us during her time in the Assembly). Assemblymember Chris Ward and Senator Dave Cortese each received only about $2,000 in dirty dollar contributions.”
The one exception was newly elected Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (AD-13, Stockton), who was the beneficiary of a whopping $1.6 million in independent expenditures supporting his campaign and an additional $900,000 opposing his opponent Kathy Miller. All of these funds were from an oil-backed PAC called “Coalition to Restore California's Middle Class, Including Energy Companies who Produce Gas, Oil, Jobs and Pay Taxes.
“One additional notable change in the February Update is that we have excluded donations from the labor organizations who have often aligned themselves with the fossil fuel industry, including the California State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Pipe Trades,” the report added. “We have not revised the datasheets from the previous reports to exclude these labor groups, but we no longer include them in this or future updates of this report.”
Sierra Club California launched the Tracking the Dirty Dollars Project in November 2020 to “shed light on oil and gas contributions to legislators and other state-level elected officials. The project sorts through existing public databases to identify who receives contributions from oil and gas companies and their allies through direct campaign contributions, independent expenditure campaigns, and gifts. The project then presents the information in a clear format that makes it much easier for the general public and environmental activists to see what their elected leaders have received.”
A cover report discussing the February installment and the data sheets comprising the first and second installment, are available on Sierra Club California’s website. More information about the project is included in a November blog e-mailed to Sierra Club members and supporters around the state.
The information found in these reports is invaluable for independent journalists like me who report on the oil and gas industry in California and its capture of the Governor’s Office, the Legislature and the regulatory agencies.