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Consumer Watchdog Report Slams Gov. Jerry Brown Over $9.8 million in Donations From Big Oil


By Dan Bacher

Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based consumer organization, on August 10 released an alarming report claiming that oil, gas and utilities gave $9.8 million to Governor Jerry Brown and his causes, often within days of winning big favors.

Consumer Watchdog is known for following the Big Money, especially fossil fuel money, and its impact on California politics. The report’s findings challenge the hypocrisy of Brown's continual posing as a “climate leader” as his administration makes decision after decision favoring the fossil fuel industry and utilities.

“The timing of energy industry donations around important legislation and key pro-industry amendments, as well as key regulatory decisions in which Brown personally intervened, raises troubling questions about whether quid pro quos are routine for this administration,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker, author of the report, in a press release. “While Brown paints himself as a foe of fossil fuels, his Administration promoted reckless oil drilling, burning dirty natural gas to make electricity, and used old hands from industry and government, placed in key regulatory positions, to protect the fossil fuel-reliant energy industry.”

After releasing the report online at 10 am, Consumer Watchdog President, Jamie Court, and Executive Director, Carmen Balber, held a press conference in Santa Monica at 10:30 am. They discussed the report and answered questions from media participating in the event.

As they talked, they displayed visuals, including a timeline chart detailing the money in and the favors out and a photo chart of Brown Administration energy industry Insiders who executed the favors.

You can download the report here.

You can view a short video summarizing the report here

The report claims that twenty-six energy companies including the state’s three major investor-owned utilities, Occidental, Chevron, and NRG—all with business before the state—donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor.

“Donations were often made within days or weeks of winning favors,” the group said. “The three major investor-owned utilities alone contributed nearly $6 million.”

Court said "an exhaustive review” of campaign records, publicly-released emails and other documents at PUCPapers.org, court filings, and media reports, shows that Brown “personally intervened" in regulatory decisions favoring the energy industry.”

Energy companies tracked by the report donated $4.4 million to the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party gave $4.7 million to Brown’s re-election. “Earmarking to the Democratic Party is illegal," Court pointed out.

Court said it is forwarding its report to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

I am waiting to a response to my request for a comment about the Consumer Watchdog report from the Governor's Office.

In response to the report, Brown spokesman Evan Westrup told the San Diego Union Tribune, “The governor’s leadership on climate is unmatched. These claims are downright cuckoo.”

“Westrup cited a host of Brown policies and decisions since he was elected in 2010 that were aimed at protecting the environment," the publication said. (www.sandiegouniontribune.com/...)

Consumer Watchdog strongly disagrees that these claims are "downright cuckoo.”

“Evidence strongly suggests that the timing of certain donations may have elicited or rewarded legislative or regulatory action on behalf of these companies," said Court.

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