• Oily Influence: The oil industry dominates California statehouse lobbying Thursday, November 2, 2017

    Through the first three-quarters of 2017, Big Oil spent big on lobbyists in Sacramento

    Just in case you’re not keeping score (and who would be), 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 for the first three-quarters of 2017 is the oil industry.

    Oil gusherOil interests held three of the top four spots in spending for lobbying in the Capitol, racking up a combined $17.1 million to send a flotilla of hired advocates into the dome.

    Leading the pack was Chevron, which spent $8.25 million, while the Western States Petroleum Assn. rang up $6.2 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 $2.666 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 $3.1 million to lobbyists. The only other union to make the Top 10 list was the California Teachers Assn., with a bit more than $2 million in spending on 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.”

    –Eric Bailey

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