The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, and its members have contributed $170 million to California political campaigns since 2001, according to a new data analysis
from the Berkeley-based, nonpartisan watchdog MapLight.
WSPA is the trade association for oil industry interests in the western states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. WSPA members include multinational oil corporations such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Valero, and the Plains All American Pipeline Company, the corporation responsible for the Refugio Beach Oil Spill of 2017.
WSPA and its members have contributed more than $112 million to ballot measure campaigns, $8 million to state candidates, and $50 million to other California political action committees and party committees, according to the MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.
"Chevron tops the list of political donors from WSPA's membership, contributing $89 million overall since 2001, the first year in which online data is available," Maplight reported. "Aera Energy has contributed the second most at roughly $40 million, and Valero is third at $13 million.
The report documents all of the California legislators who have received campaign contributions from the oil industry since 2001.
State Sen. Jean Fuller, the Kern County Republican from Senate District 16 who has served as the Legislature's most fervent advocate for Big Oil, received the most oil industry contributions of any legislator: $88,890.
Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, a Democrat from Senate District 5, received the second largest amount of oil industry contributions, $83,350.
Assemlymember Rudy Salas Jr., a Democrat from Assembly District 32, received the third largest amount of Big Oil money: $79,850.
The top ten recipients of WSPA member money in the California Legislature are listed below:
(1) Jean Fuller, Republican, Senate District 16, $88,890
(2) Cathleen Galgiani, Senate District 5, Democrat $83,350
(3) Rudy Salas Jr., Assembly District 32, Democrat, $79,850
(4) Raul Bocanega, Assembly District 39, Democrat, $76,300
(5) Adam C. Gray, Assembly District 21, Democrat, $72,600
(6) Jim Cooper, Assembly District 9, Democrat, $71,650
(7) Sebastian M. Ridley-Thomas, Assembly District 54, Democrat, $70,800
(8) Chad Mays, Assembly District 42, Republican, $63,700
(9) Mike Gipson, Assembly District 64, Democrat, $62,650
(10) James L. Frazier Jr., Assembly District 11, Democrat, $58,176
While the amount of money legislators have received from WSPA members is alarming, they pale in comparison to the $9.8 million from oil companies, gas companies, and utilities that self-styled "climate leader" Gov. Jerry Brown has received since he ran for his third term as governor, according to Consumer Watchdog
In addition to pouring millions into campaigns, WSPA "augments its political influence with a massive lobbying presence in Sacramento," topping the list of lobbyist spending in California in the third quarter of 2017, according to Maplight.
Big Oil dominated three out of the four top spots of expenditures by all lobbying organizations in 2017, according to documents from the California Secretary of State's Office.
Outspending all of its competition, Chevron placed first with $8.2 million, and the WSPA placed second $6.2 million. Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company finished fourth with $3.2 million.
That's a total of $17.6 million dumped into lobbying by the three top oil industry lobbying organizations alone. That figure exceeds the $14.6 million expended by all 16 oil lobby organizations in 2016.
Big Oil has become so powerful in California, in spite of the state's "green" image, that every bill except one opposed by the oil industry has failed to make it out of the legislature over the past three years.