Tag Archives: JOBSPAC

Which is the Worst Oil Company of them All?

There are so many ways to assess which oil company is truly the worst of the worst. It also depends on the day. You’ve got ExxonMobil who not only caused the infamous oil spill at Alaska’s Prince William Sound but is also one of the world’s biggest funders of the global warming denial campaign. You’ve got BP –who not only caused the greatest man-made environmental disaster in history, but negotiated a settlement that does not properly compensate the victims of the spill. Still, in California, it’s hard to compete with Chevron.

If you watched the Republican National Convention and/or the Democratic National Convention, you probably saw endless Chevron greenwashing commercials. If you listen to the radio on your way to work, their advertisements run on every major station. Their "We Agree" campaign focuses on making them seem like a socially responsible business trying to do right for America. Yes, they care about profits, but their business is really all about helping everyday people meet their energy needs. Oh, and don’t worry about their fracking operations –they would never try to extract natural gas unless it was completely safe and foolproof. Um… right. In Chevron We Trust.

But what makes Chevron truly heinous is all of the campaigning they try to do outside of the public view. Unbeknownst to the public, Chevron (along with their pro-corporate allies) spend millions of dollars every election cycle to attack pro-environmental, progressive candidates. For the last decade, CLCV and our allies in the California Alliance have successfully defended our candidates and defeated theirs in no small part by revealing to voters who exactly is funding the opposition campaign. Guess what? Voters don’t like it when Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Insurance, and Wall Street Banksters try to buy an election. But while we’re successful about 75% of the time, Chevron and its allies still win 25% of their campaigns and have refined their tactics to be more deceptive and tough to beat.

Overtime, these large corporations have created PACs with innocuous sounding names mislead voters into thinking they’re something other than large corporate front groups. This includes groups like JobsPAC, the California Now Independent Expenditure PAC (which is often confused with the respected California National Organization of Women [NOW] PAC), California Alliance for Progress & Education (which sounds much like us and our partners’ California Alliance), Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy, and the Alliance for California’s Tomorrow, which is primarily funded by health insurance companies.

For your convenience, I've linked all of their Secretary of State Campaign Disclosure pages, so you can see exactly who funds these groups. The first thing you may notice is that they're not funded by individuals and they tend to receive money from each other. Why? Because these groups allow a corporation like Chevron to contribute money to one PAC, and then have it transferred elsewhere from that PAC to another so that when voters receive mail from Alliance for California's Tomorrow and go to research who funded the PAC, all they see are contributors that have other innocuous sounding names completely unaware of what entities are behind it all.

The newest front group is called the California Senior Advocates League. You may be surprised to learn that it has nothing to do with seniors. The Ventura County Star’s Timm Herdt has been particularly focused on revealing just how deceptive a group this is:

If you think a group with a name like that is concerned about Medicare, think again. It's an outfit funded by the National Association of Realtors, Chevron, Philip Morris, Anthem Blue Cross, the California Chamber of Commerce and others. It focuses on state legislative races, and attempting to track its money is no easy task.

I sought to do so during the primary election campaign, and found myself doing a maneuver I called the "Chevron Four Step." It went like this: Chevron gives $375,000 to JobsPAC, which then gives $250,000 to the California Now Independent Expenditure Committee, which then gives $220,000 to the California Senior Advocates League, which then spends $400,000 on state Senate races.

As always, we have our work cut out for us to fight back and campaign for our candidates, but all of this stresses just how badly we need real campaign finance reform. Even Assemblymember Julia Brownley’s Disclose Act, which would have required improved campaign contribution disclosures met heavy opposition that lobbied hard to kill the bill in the legislature. Ten guesses who some of the bills biggest opponents were.

Seniors hate John Laird, or So Claims Mysterious Organization

“Well”, I says to myself.  “The seniors sure don’t like John Laird much.”   I had just listened to a radio ad hitting John Laird in his race for the Special 15th Senate District.  Something about budgets and spending and salaries and expenses.  Standard hit.  Nothing special.  But I was struck at the end by the sponsors of the ad:  The California Senior Advocates League.  I’ve been worried recently about my father who is in a senior center,so I’m glad to learn that there is a League that advocates for him.  Who are these guys and is it possible they could help my father?

So I looked them up and it turns out that the California Senior Advocates League has only been advocating for seniors for a couple of weeks.  Mostly they have been advocating for seniors by sending out mailings against Mary Salas who is running in the Democratic Primary in the 40th State Senate District.  They are apparently branching out by hitting John Laird also.

But who are these kindly older people who make up the California Senior Advocates.  There are only two donors:  JOBSPAC, A Bi-partisan Coalition of CA Employers and Put California Back to Work, Sponsored by the Civil Justice Assn of California.  So is that it?  These guys want to advocate for seniors by putting them back to work?  I’ll have to check with Dad, but I don’t know that he wants to go back to work–depending of course on the job.

And who is this Civil Justice Association?  And why do they want to put seniors back to work?  I looked them up and it turns out that the “Put California Back to Work, Sponsored by the Civil Justice Assn of California” is filled with some pretty great groups including, CA Alliance for Progress and Education (I am for progress and I am for education); Californians for Balance and Fairness in the Civil Justice System (I love balance and fairness); Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy (you betcha); Diversity PAC (is this like LGBT?); JOBSPAC (wait…they are the senior partner of the Senior Advocates!); a whole bunch of insurance companies.

So it seems that JOBSPAC is the real player here.  Who exactly is JOBSPAC?  They are a virtual Who’s Who of big business.  A candidate might be shy about getting money from Phillip Morris, but they are less shy about getting money from JOBSPAC.  So Phillip Morris and Anthem Blue Cross and Chevron and the Pharmaceutical Industry contribute to JOBSPAC and the politicians they support are not tarnished by the unseemliness of taking money from companies from big business.

The easy answer is for business to hide behind JOBSPAC.  Some think that JOBSPAC is just too controversial so they hide behind these little pop up PACs like “Put California Back to Work” and “California Senior Advocates”.  I want to know the process of developing the names.  Is it like a drinking game?  Do lobbyists get cash prizes for coming up with the most ironic and cynical names of organizations?  

Actually, I think they do.