The state’s campaign finance watchdog agency will investigate allegations that the California Democratic Party improperly funneled contributions from the oil and energy industry to the 2014 reelection campaign of Gov. Jerry Brown, officials said Friday.
The group Consumer Watchdog filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission alleging that hundreds of thousands of dollars were given by energy companies to the state party, which shortly afterward made large donations to Brown’s campaign.
“It was a laundry machine for dirty energy contributions to the Brown administration, a slush fund of sorts, hiding big oil, utility and other dirty energy dollars in close proximity to officials’ actions,” said Jamie Court, president of the group Brown’s Dirty Hands, which made the allegations in a report.
In one example given in the complaint, the state party gave Brown’s campaign $300,000 a week after Chevron contributed $350,000 to the party.
In a letter Friday, Galena West, chief of enforcement for the Fair Political Practices Commission, said she would not be investigating other people named in the complaint.
“This letter is to notify you that the enforcement division of the Fair Political Practices Commission will investigate the California Democratic Party for alleged violation of the Political Reform Act's campaign reporting provisions resulting from information contained in your sworn complaint,” West wrote.
West also wrote that her office has not made any determination about the validity of the allegations.
Democratic Party spokesman Michael Soller said the group has received the letter and has "been cooperating fully with their inquiry.” The governor’s office declined to comment immediately.