Oily Influence: The oil industry dominates California statehouse lobbying Friday, February 2, 2018
Just in case you’re not keeping score, the Secretary of State’s numbers on lobbyist spending in the California Capitol came out the other day, and as usual the biggest of big players in 2017 was the oil industry.
Leading the pack was Chevron, which spent $9.79 million, while the Western States Petroleum Assn. rang up $7.89 million to hold the No. 2 spot on the list of top lobbyist employers. Tesoro Refining and Marketing Co, LLC, came in No. 4 on the list, with $3.23 million paid to lobbyists.
The big showing by Big Oil was broken up only by the lobbying tab for the California State Council of Services Employees, which paid nearly $4 million to lobbyists.
Chevron’s money went to four in-house lobbyists as well as the work of five Sacramento lobbying firms: Alcantar & Kahl; Latham & Watkins; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates; and Strategic Council.
The bulk of the money was spent by Chevron and others from the oil industry during the spring, as the industry successfully beat back nearly every bill that could have negatively hit its bottom line profits. Among the biggest victories was sidetracking legislation by state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon that sought to phase out all fossil-fuel use for generating energy by 2045.
The big spending by Big Oil was nothing usual. In the past decade, the oil industry has spent more than $150 million in lobbying at the Capitol. In addition, the industry has played hard in electoral politics by backing candidates who support the industry’s goals.
The one big campaign trail setback for Big Oil was the defeat of former Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, who lost her seat in Southern California’s Inland Empire in a close 2016 race. Her rival, current Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-San Bernardino), helped turn the race by portraying Brown as a oil industry pawn and dubbing her “Chevron Cheryl.”