A California Democrat facing a rare challenge from the left over her environmental record has gotten a $1 million boost from Chevron.
The independent expenditure on behalf of Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, should sharpen the divisions in a race showcasing liberal discontent with business-friendly Assembly Democrats. Environmental and labor groups angered by Brown’s stance on climate legislation last year have backed a challenger and fellow Democrat, attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes.
The independent expenditure committee also took $500,000 from the California Dental Association and $250,00 from the California Apartment Association.
Brown also has drawn the backing of the California Democratic Party apparatus and the endorsement of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood.
Brown was one of numerous centrist Democrats who last year weakened climate legislation as the oil industry blitzed vulnerable members with targeted ads. The powerful lobby’s spending soared as the fight over Senate Bill 350 neared its conclusion. Ultimately, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders discarded an effort to cut petroleum use in half.
A union backing Reyes condemned Chevron’s pro-Brown spending. “She had their back on SB 350. And now they have her back to the tune of $1 million,” said Mike Roth, a spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers, Western States Council, who called Chevron’s spending in the district “patently offensive.”
Chevron spent around $3.4 million on campaigns and about $3.9 million on California lobbying in 2015, according to records filed with the state. The company contributed the maximum allowable $8,200 to Brown’s Assembly campaign last cycle.
Donors can spend unlimited amounts on independent efforts as long as they do not coordinate with the campaign of the recipient.
Editor’s note: This post was updated at 6:40 p.m. April 14 to include comment from UFCW.