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PG&E funds Atkins Torrey Pines golf blowout

State Senate leader drives big money through limit loophole

Toni Atkins
Toni Atkins

San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins, the freshly named state Senate leader, has just filed a financial disclosure statement showing she's also maintained her position as one of California's busiest special-interest fundraisers.

California Works, a so-called ballot measure committee run by Atkins, reports in a January 19 campaign statement that it raised $71,658 last year, ending 2017 with $325,385 of cash in the bank.

The San Jose Mercury-News reported in August 2016 that Atkins was even then a standout in using the ballot-committee loophole of state campaign law to recruit big money without limit from corporations with business before the legislature.

“Candidates are increasingly using these committees as slush funds for unlimited contributions from special interests,” Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, told the paper. “They’re paying off lawmakers without technically violating the law. It’s disgusting.”

Atkins and her ballot committee have been particularly popular with Pacific Gas & Electric, the Northern California utility giant under investigation for its liability in last year's devastating Wine Country wildfires.

The company, which was successfully prosecuted by the federal government for the September 9, 2010, San Bruno pipeline disaster, is currently battling a pending state Senate bill that would prevent the firm from passing the costs of its negligence on to ratepayers.

This month's disclosure by the Atkins committee shows PG&E gave $10,000 on November 14. The utility company made an August 7 non-monetary contribution of $2258 worth of fundraising services.

The Atkins fund spent $38,384, the bulk on fundraising costs and commissions, including $10,000 paid to the Lodge at Torrey Pines on October 19 for "Lodging 27 Guests; Food/Beverage; Spa Appts for Golf Event." Additionally, Sacramento's The Kitchen restaurant received a $1250 deposit.

Other expenses included Q-Star Charters, which got $817 for providing transportation to a July 29 Del Mar fundraising event, and U.S. Coachways, which got $1059 for an August 7 event in San Francisco. None of the payouts were designated for ballot measures, per the filing.

Other major 2017 donors to the Atkins fund included the Communities for California Cardrooms PAC with $10,000 on December 11 and $15,000 from Blue Shield of California on December 31, according to state records.

"The four lawmakers who have collected the most money are Atkins, D-San Diego; [Assemblyman Adam] Gray, chairman of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee; [Sen. Ed] Hernandez, chairman of the Senate Health Committee; and Senate leader [Kevin] de León, D-Los Angeles," the Mercury-News reported in 2016.

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Toni Atkins
Toni Atkins

San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins, the freshly named state Senate leader, has just filed a financial disclosure statement showing she's also maintained her position as one of California's busiest special-interest fundraisers.

California Works, a so-called ballot measure committee run by Atkins, reports in a January 19 campaign statement that it raised $71,658 last year, ending 2017 with $325,385 of cash in the bank.

The San Jose Mercury-News reported in August 2016 that Atkins was even then a standout in using the ballot-committee loophole of state campaign law to recruit big money without limit from corporations with business before the legislature.

“Candidates are increasingly using these committees as slush funds for unlimited contributions from special interests,” Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, told the paper. “They’re paying off lawmakers without technically violating the law. It’s disgusting.”

Atkins and her ballot committee have been particularly popular with Pacific Gas & Electric, the Northern California utility giant under investigation for its liability in last year's devastating Wine Country wildfires.

The company, which was successfully prosecuted by the federal government for the September 9, 2010, San Bruno pipeline disaster, is currently battling a pending state Senate bill that would prevent the firm from passing the costs of its negligence on to ratepayers.

This month's disclosure by the Atkins committee shows PG&E gave $10,000 on November 14. The utility company made an August 7 non-monetary contribution of $2258 worth of fundraising services.

The Atkins fund spent $38,384, the bulk on fundraising costs and commissions, including $10,000 paid to the Lodge at Torrey Pines on October 19 for "Lodging 27 Guests; Food/Beverage; Spa Appts for Golf Event." Additionally, Sacramento's The Kitchen restaurant received a $1250 deposit.

Other expenses included Q-Star Charters, which got $817 for providing transportation to a July 29 Del Mar fundraising event, and U.S. Coachways, which got $1059 for an August 7 event in San Francisco. None of the payouts were designated for ballot measures, per the filing.

Other major 2017 donors to the Atkins fund included the Communities for California Cardrooms PAC with $10,000 on December 11 and $15,000 from Blue Shield of California on December 31, according to state records.

"The four lawmakers who have collected the most money are Atkins, D-San Diego; [Assemblyman Adam] Gray, chairman of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee; [Sen. Ed] Hernandez, chairman of the Senate Health Committee; and Senate leader [Kevin] de León, D-Los Angeles," the Mercury-News reported in 2016.

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Comments
9

Is Atkins a DINO? I thought she was supposed to be for the people, not major corporations. What has happened to her ethics?

Jan. 19, 2018

Atkins, like EVERY other politician is for themselves first. They just say they’re for others to get your vote.

Jan. 19, 2018

politicians are like those cute puppies you bring home from the pound, they soon grow up, crap all over your house and end up biting the hand that feeds them.

Jan. 20, 2018

I would rather have the dogs.

Jan. 21, 2018

in this case we get both

Jan. 21, 2018

How many of the voters in her district have even a glimmer of what sort of sell-out she is? Darned few, I reckon. Popular Dems like her never seem to get the sort of scrutiny that other pols have to expect. She's everything the liberal, touchy-feely voter wants, and away she goes.

Jan. 19, 2018

I didn't know, and she won't get my vote again. Shame on her. That "disgusting" comment from Common Cause tells the tale.

Jan. 19, 2018

All politicians rely on money to get reelected. If anyone thinks that money does not buy a politician then they are too stupid to be allowed to vote. Money buys access and thus influence. It is the election system that breeds corruption because it requires huge sums of money to run and stay in office. The (all) politician must jump through the hoops for the big donors. Joe Six-Pack and his $5 contribution has no chance.

Jan. 21, 2018

Atkins supported a bill to restrict college kids free speech rights for a foreign country. Why would we be surprised she supports a billion dollar utility against the interests of her constituents? She's California's hillary, apparently.

Jan. 21, 2018

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