Political Watchdog Launches Probe Into California Democratic Party Over Jerry Brown Donations

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The state’s political ethics commission is launching an investigation into the California Democratic Party after an advocacy group alleged the party acted as a middle man to funnel donations from oil and energy companies to Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014 re-election campaign.

The Fair Political Practices Commission on Friday informed Consumer Watchdog of its investigation of their allegations. The advocacy group issued a report in August alleging that energy companies donated $4.4 million to the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party gave $4.7 million to Brown’s re-election between 2011 and 2014. Consumer Watchdog said many of the donations were timed around important decisions related to the industry.

“Hopefully this will shed some light on what looks like a backdoor laundry machine for energy company contributions and probably extends beyond the energy industry,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.

Consumer Watchdog has often clashed with Brown and various Democratic leaders over the years. In a letter sent to Consumer Watchdog Friday, the FPPC said it is not investigating Brown or any of the other parties listed in the advocacy groups report.

“We received the letter, we’re aware of it and we’ve been cooperating fully with the FPPC,” said Michael Soller, a spokesman for the California Democratic Party. Soller declined to comment further.

Brown could not be immediately reached for comment. As a policy, the FPPC does not comment on open investigations.

The agency has called for investigations into other top Democratic officials over the years.

In late March the FPPC opened an investigation into Nancy E. McFadden, the governor’s executive secretary, over a similar Consumer Watchdog complaint alleging that she influenced energy-related legislation and appointments while holding stock in Pacific Gas & Electric. The FPPC said the McFadden investigation is ongoing.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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