Friday, September 22, 2006

Big Oil Throws Down Against Proposition 89

The Chevron Corporation -- formerly known as Standard Oil of California -- wrote a $250,000 check to a special interest group opposing Proposition 89, the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act.

Chevron Proposition 87 Chevron has extensively funded the negative attack ads against Proposition 87, the Clean Energy initiative also on the November ballot.

A chronological view of Chevron's $19 million in contributions contains seven checks written over a nine month period.

The company has a storied history of buying results. In 1984, Chevron's merger with Gulf Oil was the largest merger that had ever occured. Chevron also gobbled up Texaco, Unocal, and Sacramento politics.

On September 2, 2004, Tom Chorneau reported for the AP:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's ambitious plan to reorganize almost every aspect of state government was influenced significantly by oil and gas giant ChevronTexaco Corp., which managed to shape such key recommendations as the removal of restrictions on oil refineries.

Many corporations and interest groups participated in the governor's reform plan -- known as the California Performance Review -- but state records and interviews with the participants show Chevron enjoyed immense success in influencing the report through its array of lobbyists, attorneys and trade organizations.

And few corporations have spent so much political cash on the governor, either. Since Schwarzenegger's election last October, the San Ramon company has contributed more than $200,000 to his committees and $500,000 to the California Republican Party.

Chevron, whose officials acknowledge they lobbied hard to get their ideas in the report, is one of about 20 companies that paid to send the governor and his staff to this week's Republican National Convention in New York. On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger attended a closed-door meeting in New York with representatives of those companies, including Chevron. And just three weeks after the Governor's Office released the 2,700-page reorganization report, the company gave $100,000 to a Schwarzenegger-controlled political fund.

At the time that was a lot of money. Richard Holober, Executive Director Consumer Federation of California, explained what has happened since then:

Since 2004, Chevron gave $3 million in political contributions in California. For a company that made a record $14 billion in profits last year, it was money well spent. Despite public indignation, big oil crushed a proposed state tax on windfall oil profits.

ChevronChevron has proven successful in the current system. The company has spend millions and ensured they make record billions.

Under Proposition 89, Chevron would be able to contribute $10,000 against each initiative, removing almost twenty-million dollars in negative ads. Chevron employees would be able to contribute, but Proposition 89 would create a system where political issues aren't decided like an auction.

Clean Money -- public financing of campaigns -- has proven successful in Maine and Arizona. Included in Proposition 89 are the best practices from those systems, adapted for California. The initiative also includes are review process that will allow regular refinement.