Western States Petroleum Association & Members Have Dumped $170 Million Into CA Campaigns Since 2001



By Dan Bacher | February 14, 2018 |


The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, and its members have contributed $170 million to California political campaigns since 2001, according to a new data analysis from MapLight released on February 14.

WSPA is the trade association for oil industry interests in the western states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. WSPA members include multinational oil corporations such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Valero and the Plains All American Pipeline Company, the corporation responsible for the Refugio Beach Oil Spill of 2017. 

WSPA and its members have contributed more than $112 million to ballot measure campaigns, $8 million to state candidates, and $50 million to other California political action committees and party committees, according to the MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State compiled by Laura Curlin and Ashleigh McEvoy.

“Chevron tops the list of political donors from WSPA’s membership, contributing $89 million overall since 2001, the first year in which online data is available,” Maplight reported. “Aera Energy has contributed the second most at roughly $40 million, and Valero is third at $13 million.  

The report documents all of the California legislators who have received campaign contributions from the oil industry since 2001.

Senator Jean Fuller, the Kern County Republican from Senate District 16 who has served as the Legislature’s most fervent advocate for Big Oil, received the most oil industry contributions of any legislator, $88,890.

Senator Cathleen Galgiani, a Democrat from Senate District 5, received the second largest amount of oil industry contributions, $83,350.

Assemlymember Rudy Salas Jr., a Democrat from Assembly District 32, received the third largest amount of Big Oil money, $79,850. 

The top ten recipients of WSPA member money in the California Legislature are listed below:

(1) Jean Fuller, Republican, Senate District 16, $88,890 
(2) Cathleen Galgiani, Senate District 5, Democrat $83,350
(3) Rudy Salas Jr., Assembly District 32, Democrat, $79,850
(4) Raul Bocanega, Assembly District 39, Democrat, $76,300
(5) Adam C. Gray, Assembly District 21, Democrat, $72,600
(6) Jim Cooper, Assembly District 9, Democrat, $71,650
(7) Sebastian M. Ridley-Thomas, Assembly District 54, Democrat, $70,800
(8) Chad Mays, Assembly District 42, Republican, $63,700
(9) Mike Gipson, Assembly District 64, Democrat, $62,650
(10) James L. Frazier Jr., Assembly District 11, Democrat, $58,176 

You can explore data on the campaign contributions from WSPA members - including contributions from each organization, top recipients serving in the California State Legislature, and contribution patterns over time by going to: maplight.org/… 

While the amount of money individual legislators have received from WSPA members is alarming, they pale in comparison to the $9.8 million from oil companies, gas companies and utilities that “climate leader” Governor Jerry Brown has received since he ran for his third term as governor, according to Consumer Watchdog. For more information on Governor Brown and his so-called "green" policies, see: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/2017-09/how_green_is_brown.pdf

In addition to pouring millions into campaigns, WSPA “augments its political influence with a massive lobbying presence in Sacramento,” topping the list of lobbyist spending in California in the third quarter of 2017, according to Maplight.

Big Oil dominated three out of the four top spots of expenditures by all lobbying organizations in 2017, according to documents from the California Secretary of State’s Office that I analyzed.

Outspending all of their competition, Chevron placed first with $8.2 million and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the trade association for the oil industry in the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona, placed second  $6.2 million. Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company finished fourth with $3.2 million. You can find the information on spending by employers of lobbyists here: cal-access.sos.ca.gov/…

That’s a total of $17.6 million dumped into lobbying by the three top oil industry lobbying organizations alone. That figure exceeds the $14,577,314 expended by all 16 oil lobby organizations in 2016. 

Big Oil has become so powerful in California, in spite of the state’s largely undeserved “green” image, that every bill except one opposed by the oil industry has failed to make it out of the legislature over the past three years.

But WSPA and Big Oil wield their money and power not just through spending millions of dollars on lobbying and political campaigns. They also create Astroturf groups, work in collaboration with the media, and get appointed to positions on and influence key regulatory panels.

For example, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas in Southern California from 2009 to 2012. She also served on the task forces to create “marine protected areas” on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012. Information: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp 

As Reheis-Boyd was overseeing the crafting of California’s “marine protected areas,” Reheis-Boyd’s husband, James D. Boyd, sat on on the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2012, including serving as Vice-Chair of the Commission from 2/2007 to 1/2012.  

The “marine protected areas” created under the privately funded MLPA Initiative fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore drilling, pollution, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering. Yet state officials and corporate environmental NGO representatives praised the process overseen by Reheis-Boyd and other corporate interests as “open, transparent and inclusive,” though it was anything but.

There is no doubt that Big Oil has captured the regulatory apparatus from top to bottom in California — and we must curb and overcome the power and money of the oil and gas corporations in California in order to protect the public trust. For more information about the grassroots campaign to get oil money out of California politics, go to: https://www.oilmoneyout.com





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