With San Diego's nastiest race of primary season 2018 hitting new lows almost daily, a political committee funded by Sacramento's oil lobby checked into the contest with $35,000 on May 18 to help pay for TV attack ads against Fourth District county supervisor candidate Lori Saldana.
The petroleum industry fund, calling itself the Coalition to Restore California's Middle Class, has collected over a million dollars each from some of the biggest oil outfits in Texas, including Valero Energy of San Antonio ($2 million) and Tesoro Companies, also San Antonio-based ($1 million). CRC Services, LLC of Houston, Texas came up with $750,000, and Chevron Corporation of San Ramon, California gave $1.5 million.
Besides its anti-Saldana money, the group of out-of-state oil producers and refiners has so far spent $320,000 to defeat the Assembly bid of San Benito County supervisor Robert Rivas, leader of a successful initiative to ban fracking, reports the Gilroy Dispatch.
A May 24 endorsement of Rivas's assembly bid by the Morgan Hill Times said Rivas "took early leadership in the anti-fracking movement, which despite $2 million in spending by Big Oil, carried 59 percent of the votes and inspired similar initiatives in other California counties."
The oil company PAC has in past years targeted assembly supporters of so-called Climate Action legislation, according to the DeSmog blog.
"Chevron Corp., Tesoro Cos. Inc., Valero Energy Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. are among the companies that have plowed $7.5 million into the Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class since 2014."
In addition to its current efforts against Saldana and Rivas, state campaign finance disclosures show that the oil fund has so far this year come up with $550,000 for the California Republican Party.
The presence of the oil industry money in the messy San Diego race is widely linked to the key role of assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher on behalf of husband Nathan Fletcher's supervisoral bid against Saldana.
A torrent of cash related to state legislation, including $15,000 on May 14 from the Sacramento-based California Medical Association Independent Expenditure Committee, has been given to the anti-Saldana group, which a May 22 disclosure shows has spent over $91,000 on media buys and production of attack ads.
Additionally, the San Diego County Democratic Party, which is spending heavily on behalf of Nathan Fletcher, has picked up $165,000 from his wife's campaign committee, in turn backed by $2000 from controversial private prison operator CoreCivic of Tennessee LLC, $6400 from Sempra Energy, and $4400 from Chevron, among a bevy of other legislative special interests.