Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 19, 2014

Big Oil Company Donates $250,000 to Yes on Proposition 1 campaign

Graphic of Jerry Brown courtesy of Red, Green and Blue.

Big Oil Company Donates $250,000 to Yes on Proposition 1 campaign 

Top contributors to water bond donated over $9.9 million! 

by Dan Bacher 
Censored News

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) revealed on October 17 that Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, has contributed $250,000 to the Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaign. 

The total of money donated by top contributors for Governor Brown Prop. 1 and 2 campaign has risen to $9,913,452 to date, according to the FPPC. (

Aera Energy LLC is one of California's largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's production, according to the company’s website. (

“Formed in June 1997 and jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, we are operated as a stand-alone company through our own board of managers,” the website stated. 

“We are industry leaders that specialize in tapping heavy oil and other unconventional light reservoirs. With headquarters in Bakersfield, most of our production is centered in the San Joaquin Valley. We also have oil field operations in Ventura and Monterey counties. Aera produces about 131,000 barrels of oil and 36 million cubic feet of natural gas each day and has proved oil and gas reserves equivalent to approximately 712 million barrels of oil,” the website said. 

Opponents of Proposition 1 say Governor Jerry Brown’s $7.5 billion water bond is an expensive and unfair taxpayer giveaway to special interests, including Big Oil and Big Ag, that won’t solve the drought or help secure California's water future. They see the latest contribution as one of many by powerful corporate interests to pay for slick campaign ads to trick the voters into approving the controversial measure. 

The Con argument in the California Progressive Voter Guide states: “It allocates over $3.6 billion, without oversight by the legislature, to build dams and pay for water transfers for corporate agribusiness. Prop 1 with interest will cost CA taxpayers $14.4 billion or $360 million per year for 40 years out of our State’s general fund, money that could be used for other needs like education and healthcare." 

It’s hard not to see the irony of a big oil company contributing $250,000 to a campaign for a water bond that allocates $900 million for alleged “groundwater sustainability” less than two weeks after the Center for Biological Diversity released state documents revealing that almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater were illegally dumped into Central California aquifers that supply drinking water and irrigation water for farms. 

The documents also reveal that Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board testing found high levels of arsenic, thallium and nitrates, contaminants sometimes found in oil industry wastewater, in water-supply wells near these waste-disposal operations.(

The bond money includes $800 million for prevention and clean up of groundwater pollution and $100 million for local plans and projects to manage groundwater. So is the oil industry backing the bond so that the taxpayers will foot the bill, rather than Big Oil, for the clean up of water in aquifers contaminated by fracking wastewater filled with toxic chemicals? 

Billionaires and corporate agribusiness fund Water Bond campaign 

Corporate agribusiness interests, the largest users of federal and state water project water exported through the Delta pumping facilities, have donated a total of $850,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. The California Farm Bureau Federation contributed $250,000 and the Western Growers Service Association donated $250,000, as listed on the FPPC site. 

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon, owner of Paramount Farms and largest orchard fruit grower in the world, contributed $150,000 and the California Cotton Alliance contributed $200,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign, but their donations are listed on the FPPC website because they were under $250,000. 

For an excellent, in depth article on the Resnicks, pleased read, "Water, Money, Taxes, Campaigns, and the Bond: The Resnick Farming Story," by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla and various associates at: 

Resnick and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels - and have made millions off resellling environmental water to the public. On October 2, Prop. 1 opponents held a "mock reception" outside the Resnick mansion in Beverly Hills to expose the Resnicks, who stand to benefit from the two dams funded by the latest state water bond. (

The largest individual donor in the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign is Sean Parker, who has contributed $1 million to the campaign to date. Parker is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who cofounded the file-sharing computer service Napster and served as the first president of the social networking website Facebook. He also cofounded Plaxo, Causes, and Airtime. As of September, 2014, Parker's net worth was estimated to be $3.1 billion, according to Wiikipedia. 

Also noteworthy is the $1.5 million collectively donated to Prop. 1 by four members of the Fisher family that owns the controversial Gap stores, notorious for employing sweatshop labor in the Third World, and Mendocino Redwood Company. Doris F. Fisher contributed $499,000, John J. Fisher $351,000, Robert J. Fisher $400,000 and William S. Fisher $250,000. 

In contrast to the $8,026,015 in donations to the Prop. 1 and 2 campaigns listed on the FPPC website, the FPPC states, “No committee opposing this ballot measure raised enough money to reach the reporting threshold." 

The Vote NO on Prop. 1 campaign had raised a total of $71,000 and has spent $41,036 as of October 6, 2014, according to Ballotpedia (,_Water_Bond_(2014_

From Governor Moonbeam to Big Oil Brown

The contribution of $250,000 from Aera Energy LLC to Governor Jerry Brown’s campaign to pass the water bond is no surprise, since Brown is a strong supporter of Big Oil and the expansion of the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California. 

Leaders of environmental organizations, Indian Tribes and fishing groups strongly criticized Brown for signing Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill that clears the path for expanded fracking in California, in September 2013. The bill made California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of fracking permits optional and prevented the imposition of a moratorium on fracking for 15 months. 

The bill "undermines existing environmental law and leaves Californians unprotected from fracking and other dangerous and extreme fossil fuel extraction techniques," according to a statement from Californians Against Fracking, a statewide coalition of over 100 organizations calling for a moratorium on fracking. For more information on the legislation’s many flaws, go to: 

Big Oil strongly supported the amended version of Senate Bill 4 that Brown signed. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, praised the governor’s signing of Senate Bill 4 for creating “an environmental platform on which California can look toward the opportunity to responsibly develop the enormous potential energy resource contained in the Monterey Shale formation.” 

Brown signed that bill after receiving at least $2,014,570.22 from fossil fuel interests since his race for Attorney General in 2006, according to Oil Change International. 

In the 2014 election cycle, four oil companies had contributed a total of $161,000 to the Brown campaign as of March 1, 2014. Occidental Petroleum has given $27,200, the maximum legally allowed. Edison and Chevron have both contributed $27,200 twice, once for the primary election and another for the general election. Phillips 66 has nearly maxed out with a $25,000 contribution. (

Fossil fuel industry contributions in 2010 Governor’s race were $198,451.22. 

Proposition 30, one of the Governor’s signature policy initiatives in 2012, was also heavily funded by Big Oil. The oil and gas companies contributed over $1,118,418 to the campaign, including $500,000 from Occidental Petroleum and $125,000 from Aera Energy. 

In addition, fossil fuel industry interests have donated $355,000 to Brown’s two Oakland charter schools since 2006. In 2013 alone, Occidental Petroleum gave The Oakland Military Institute $150,000 at Brown’s behest. 

Top Contributors to Propositions 1 and 2 

Below is the list of the top contributors to Propositions 1 (and 2) from the FPPC: 

Proposition 001 - AB1471 Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. 

A contributor whose name is marked with an asterisk made a contribution to a committee that simultaneously supported or opposed more than one statewide ballot measure on the November 4, 2014 ballot. Because of this it is not possible to determine the amount of the contribution that was spent specifically on the campaign for any particular measure. In these cases the contributions are listed for every ballot measure the committee has been formed to support or oppose. This results in the same contribution appearing multiple times – once for each ballot measure the committee supports or opposes. 

1 Brown for Governor 2014* - $3,367,202 
2 Sean Parker* - $1,000,000 
3 California Alliance for Jobs - Rebuild California Committee* - $521,250 
4 California Hospitals Committee on Issues, Sponsored by California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems* - $500,000 
5 Doris Fisher* - $499,000 
6 L. John Doerr* - $475,000 
7 Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition - Issues PAC* - $400,000 
8 Robert Fisher* - $400,000 
9 John Fisher* - $351,000 
10 Western Growers Service Corporation* - $250,000 
11 Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Issues PAC* - $250,000 
12 Reed Hastings* - $250,000 
13 California American Council of Engineering Companies Issues Fund* - $250,000 
14 Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Issues Committee (including contributions from Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Legislative Improvement Committee)* - $250,000 
15 California Farm Bureau Federation* - $250,000 
16 William Fisher* - $250,000 
17 Aera Energy LLC* $250,000 
Total from top contributors $9,913,452 

No committee opposing this ballot measure raised enough money to reach the reporting threshold.

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