Sacramento, CA — Chevron, giant of the California oil industry, has again dug deep into its pockets to contribute to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most recent favorite campaign cause – and consumer advocates are charging that skulduggery is afoot.
Just days after the package of ballot measures that Schwarzenegger supported flopped in the May 19 special election, Chevron donated $250,000 to the governor’s California Dream Team political account. The big check came on top of $500,000 the oil company had already contributed to the push for the ballot measures.
All that loot prompted Doug Heller, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, to dispatch a letter today to the Legislature’s top Democrats, saying Chevron is “seeking protection” from a potential oil extraction tax that could help California with its cash troubles.
Heller noted that California is the only oil-producing state in the nation without an extraction tax, and he asked why lawmakers aren’t putting the idea back on the table. A 10% extraction tax on every barrel of crude pumped from California soil, he said, could raise up to $1 billion – money that would go a long way toward offsetting Schwarzenegger’s proposed deep spending cuts.
“The idea that we might shut down summer school, close state parks and decimate health and welfare services, but we won’t require big oil companies to pay what’s required in every other oil-producing state, is absurd,” Heller wrote. “Chevron’s political contributions cannot be allowed to overrule a logical response to the budget crisis.”
Folks at Chevron declined to engage in a war of words with Heller.
In a statement, the company said all the contributions were properly reported and that Chevron “has long supported improving California’s business climate including many of Governor Schwarzenegger’s programs since he first took office.”