California Oil Lobbyists Increased Dominance in 2014

Monday, February 09, 2015

The top six spenders on lobbying of lawmakers in Sacramento in 2014 are identical to the year before, led by the oil industry’s Western State Petroleum Association (WSPA), which did not rest on its laurels.

The oil industry’s chief money source for lobbying nearly doubled its spending from $4.7 million to $8.9 million, far outdistancing Service Employees International Union (SEIU) affiliate California State Council of Service Employees at $5.9 million. The oil industry also claimed the third spot on the list, with Chevron Corp. and its affiliates spending $4.3 million.

The numbers, gleaned from data supplied by the California Secretary of State, show the continued dominance of the oil industry in lobbying efforts but lack very many details. State law allows influence-peddlers to list their specific activities under the category “Other.” The WSPA categorized 80% of its expenditures that way, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The “other” category can include spending on ad campaigns, contracts with politically connected consultants and grass-roots advocacy.

The Sacramento Business Journal said a lot of the uncategorized WSPA money was spent on efforts to prevent transportation fuels from being included in the state’s cap-and-trade program. It cited the grassroots organization Fed Up at the Pump as a recipient of the association’s largesse, although their only presence on the group’s Facebook page is as a link, along with the Los Angeles Times and Assemblyman Brian Jones. The url FedUpAtThe redirects to the California Independent Oil Marketers Association.

The oil industry also had to contend with legislation last year that called for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and a host of other issues that require copious amounts of money to counter public opposition.

Will Barrett at the American Lung Association in California calculated that the oil industry has spent more than $70 million (pdf) on lobbying between January 1, 2009, and September 30, 2014. Almost half of that ($31.2 million) was spent by the WSPA. Chevron spent $15.5 million, followed by BP ($3.5 million), AERA Energy ($2.9 million), Occidental ($2.8 million), Phillips 66 ($2.6 million), ExxonMobil ($2.4 million), Shell ($2.4 million) and Conoco Phillips ($2.4 million).

The Top Ten spenders on lobbying, by expenditures in 2014, according to the Secretary of State, were:

$8.9 million Western States Petroleum Association

$5.9 million California State Council of Service Employees

$4.3 million Chevron Corp. and its subsidiaries

$3.9 million California Chamber of Commerce

$3 million California Hospital Association and California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems

$2.8 million Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.

$1.9 million Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and its affiliated entities

$1.9 million California Medical Association

$1.8 million California School Employees Association

$1.7 million California Manufacturers and Technology Association

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Oil Lobby Leads List of California's Top Spenders in 2014 (by Allen Young, Sacramento Business Journal)

Oil Industry Doubled Spending on Lobbying in California Last Year (by Laurel Rosenhall, Sacramento Bee)

Petroleum Association Topped Lobby List with $8.9 Million Spent in 2014 (by Dan Bacher, Daily Kos)

Oil and Gas Lobbyists in Sacramento on a Record Spending Pace (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Oil Industry Lobbying in California (by Will Barrett, American Lung Association in California) (pdf)

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