Small city outspends big oil in lobbying dollars

This is interesting: the small town of Vernon, California (population 112), spent more for lobbying than the Western States Petroleum Assocation in Sacramento.

Oil companies are historically the biggest spenders in Sacramento politics, but corruption in a small southern California city prompted a bonanza of lobbying dollars.

Vernon is an “exclusively industrial” city with 1800 businesses employing 55,000 people in Los Angeles County. Most of the 112 residents are city employees living in city owned housing. The previous mayor served for fifty years before he was convicted of voter fraud, conspiracy, and perjury in 2009. A firefighter who tried running for city council in 1979 was evicted from his home. Another group of newcomers who converted an office building into apartments in 2006 had their power shut off when they filed to run for city council. When the Los Angeles attorney began investigating corruption allegation, he discovered widespread voter fraud and misappropriation of city funds for personal use among city council members and executive staff, most of whom are descended from the city founder.

The fallout of this investigation included a state bill to disconcorporate the town (defeated last August), and another bill to strip the state-funded half million dollar annual pensions Vernon’s retired public servants receive (killed in committee). The $1.6 million spent to buy hookers for lobby lawmakers in Sacramento was apparently money well spent.

Western States Petroleum Assocation — the trade association representing companies involved in petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in the six western states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — paid a little over $1 million over the past year to their Sacramento lobbyists. WSPA members include familiar names like BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Occidental Oil, Shell, Tesoro and others.


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