17 CA Assemblymembers received over $10,000 in campaign cash from oil and gas industry and allies



By Dan Bacher | 

SACRAMENTO - Sierra Club California today released the November Update to its Tracking the Dirty Dollars Project, revealing the enormous influence that the oil and gas industry continues to exert over members of the California Legislature. 

This update found that 17 Assemblymembers have now received more than $10,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry and its allies, an increase of 12 legislators from the August report update, according to a statement from Sierra Club California. You can read the full overview for this report here.  

This update covers the period from January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021  The Club noted that this edition of their report on the Tracking the Dirty Dollars Project comes at the end of a “disappointing legislative session.”

“A total of 39 legislators between both houses continue to maintain campaign bank accounts that are untainted by the oil and gas industries. But each of the remaining 81 California legislators reported at least $1,000 in fossil fuel affiliated donations,” the Club reported.  

“While we had hoped legislators were wising up about accepting campaign contributions from the fossil-fuel lobbies, it’s clear that these interests are set on having an influence in the legislature,” said Brandon Dawson, director of Sierra Club California. “Sierra Club California will continue to hold these interests and the legislators they fund accountable for their failure to meet the urgency of the climate crisis. This is even more necessary with 2022 being an election year.”

Since the start of the tracking for the Dirty Dollars report, the Club revealed that 81 legislators have accepted “dirty dollars.” The November Update comes on the heels of Sierra Club California’s release of its annual report card in October, in which only 17 assembly members and 5 senators received a perfect score this year. 

“Assemblymember Chad Mayes (I-42) leads all legislators with a staggering total of $22,600 dirty donations, accepted in the first three quarters of 2021. Mr. Mayes left the Republican Party in 2019 to become an Independent, although it’s clear he’s not independent from the oil and gas industry’s influence. Mayes also received a dismal 13% score on Sierra Club California’s annual report card,” the group reported. 

“Eight additional Assemblymembers have now received more than $15,000 dirty dollars. The Assembly Minority Leader, Republican Marie Waldron, leads this tier with $19,700 fossil-fueled contributions. Assemblymembers Ramos and Cooper are close behind with totals of $19,500 and $19,150 respectively. Republican Heath Flora is tied with Democrat Rudy Salas Jr. with $18,800 each. Democrats Freddie Rodriguez and Tom Daly have both received $17,200. Trailing this sad group is Republican Assemblymember Thurston Smith, who has received $15,900 dirty dollar,” the group wrote.  

Sierra Club California said it 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,” according to the Club. 

A cover report discussing the November installment and the data sheets comprising the three installments is available on Sierra Club California’s website. More information about the project is included in a November 2020 blog e-mailed to Sierra Club members and supporters around the state.

In addition to the campaign contributions that the oil and gas industry make to California politicians to further their agenda, Big Oil and Big Gas also spend millions of dollars every year to lobby legislators, the Governor’s Office and regulatory agency officials. 

Four oil industry lobbyist employers alone — the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), Chevron, Aera Energy and California Resources Corporation — spent $10,192,047 lobbying the Governor’s Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies to advance Big Oil’s agenda in 2020, according to data posted on the California Secretary of State’s website on February 1, 2021. www.counterpunch.org/...

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