Candidates benefit indirectly from Chevron campaign funds, deny link
on November 2, 2014
A week ago, a website came to Richmond residents’ attention. It urges voters to support Chevron’s slate of favored candidates: Nat Bates for mayor, and Donna Powers and Charles Ramsey for City Council.
And it also touts Jim Rogers and Jael Myrick for City Council.
At the bottom of the website, a line of fine print reads: “Paid for by Richmond Working Families for Jobs 2014, in support of Bates for Mayor & Myrick, Ramsey, Powers, Rogers for City Council. Supported by Building Trades Unions with major funding by Moving Forward PAC.”
Moving Forward is the independent campaign committee funded by Chevron.
People immediately wondered, are Rogers and Myrick now on Chevron’s team?
The simple answer is no, with a caveat. The unions accepted money from Chevron in early October, established the PAC and used the Chevron dollars to campaign for Myrick and Rogers without their knowledge, a key requirement of independent expenditure committees.
As of Oct. 10, Chevron had funneled nearly $3 million into a trio of campaign committees to influence the Nov. 4 election, according to Richmond Confidential analysis of campaign finance documents. Chevron has bought billboards on nearly every street, sent out multiple mailers a day to voters, and waged a smear campaign against Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates, its bitter rivals.
But as of Oct. 21, Richmond Working Families for Jobs PAC has reported spending just $3,142 promoting Rogers and another $3,142 promoting Myrick. Both Rogers and Myrick say they are not Chevron candidates.
“If Chevron wants to support myself and Jael, they wouldn’t do that little contribution that’s only going to maybe, three percent of the population,” Rogers said. “Chevron does big things.”
According to Rogers, the labor unions endorsed five candidates a few months before this website launched, and Chevron gives money to labor unions to help the unions communicate Chevron candidates to union members.
“So when they go to the union, they are wasting their money supporting two candidates they are not endorsing,” Rogers said. “60 percent of the money is on target, 40 percent is wasted, and it’s very good compared to billboards, because for billboards, 95 percent is wasted.”
Myrick also said he’s not Chevron’s candidate.
“The website I saw had a building trade logo on it,” Myrick said. “So the building trades is supporting, has always supported me. And I have no problem with saying that I am supported by the building trades.”
“Now the fact that Chevron may be with the building trades is something completely separate, I have absolutely nothing to do with,” Myrick added.
Myrick said he takes pride in being backed by the Richmond Working Families PAC, set up by Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) Action and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021. The PAC also endorses RPA candidates, who complain that the similarly-named Chevron-funded PAC came out after as a ruse to confuse voters.
“The fact that I am supported by a broad base of diverse groups, that don’t always agree with each other, that all agree with that I should be on the City Council, is a positive thing,” Myrick said.
But RPA city council candidate Jovanka Beckles said that if Myrick really has nothing to do with Chevron and is insulted by being associated with the corporation, he should take a clear stance.
“People always say oh, we can’t help who give us money, we can’t help that they have a PAC with me,” Beckles said. “But I will tell you what, if they decided to do that with me, if you call me, hey Jovanka, did you hear, that Chevron is supporting you, the first thing I would do is to call a press conference, and I would say, I absolutely do not want their money.”
According to contribution reports filed with the city clerk, Richmond Working Families for Jobs received a $100,000 contribution on Oct. 2 from Chevron’s campaign committee Moving Forward. It also received a $2,500 contribution on Oct. 21 from Steamfitters Local 342 PAC. On Oct. 23, it received $5,000 from International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers 302 Community Candidates PAC.
The principal officer listed on the committee’s Statement of Organization documents is Mike Hernandez, the business manager of Steamfitters Local 342. Hernandez did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Both Local 342 and Local 302 are affiliated with the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council.
According to Mike Parker, a long time RPA member, the council consists of electricians, pipefitters and other workers who rely on Chevron’s construction projects for jobs and they have been the main people who support Chevron’s political agenda.
“Since 2008, they consistently aligned themselves with Chevron in local elections,” Parker said. “Chevron has been playing such a bully role that it is trying to hide behind the building trades on its campaign.”
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