From the editorial cartoonist of the Los Angeles Times, focusing on the efforts of a giant corporation to buy outright the government of a city right up the road from Casa esnl after a city council majority had the effrontery to force the company to take responsibility for the environmental and health consequences of a century of pollution:
In the accompanying essay, Horsey writes:
This year’s top prize for brazen conduct by a giant corporation in the political sphere should probably go to Chevron. This is a multinational company that, according to a Los Angeles Times report, is bigger than General Motors or Apple and took in nearly $58 billion in revenue during the second quarter of this year. Chevron has funneled a generous chunk of money to Republican campaign committees and individual candidates, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and wrote a million-dollar check to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a conservative PAC.
The city took Chevron to court seeking to force the company to improve safety procedures and oversight. Corporate leaders were not pleased and, in response, Chevron decided to back a slate of candidates for mayor and city council to replace the people who have dared to challenge the way the company does business in Richmond. Chevron’s chosen candidate for mayor has benefited from more than $1.4 million that the corporation has spent on his behalf while his opponent is trying to compete with a mere $40,000 in campaign funds. Chevron’s total spending in these local races is reported to be around $3 million.
Chevron’s big bucks have paid for TV attack ads, purchased space on virtually every billboard in town, funded a flood of mailers, financed a “news” website run by a Chevron employee and backed push polls all aimed at disparaging Chevron’s adversaries and electing a more pliable, less litigious group of city officials.
According to a recent report by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, when a local group calling itself Richmond Working Families began to organize to counter Chevron’s campaign, the company set up a puppet committee with virtually the same name, Richmond Working Families for Jobs 2014, and bought rights to the URL “richmondworkingfamilies.com.”
This goes far beyond a simple donation to a candidate or a cause. In Richmond, Chevron’s money is drowning out any opposing voice. During a visit to the city, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “We are not living in a democracy when giant corporations like Chevron can buy local governments.”
Chevron has deployed a formidable force of lobbyists and political fixers to attain their goal, and in the past the company has used the services of Willie Brown, the powerful San Francisco Democrat who was also hired years ago to sell casinos to African Americans in Atlantic City, New Jersey. . .the same folks who were driven from their apartments which were then demolished to make way for the gambling meccas now going bankrupt at an accelerating pace.
And Chevron is the beneficiary of Proposition 13, the devastating property tax cap sold to California voters as a boon to homeowning widows on fixed income but which has instead mainly benefited corporations which have owned property for decades or even,m as in the case of Chevron, for more than a century.
Back in 1977, Proposition 13 sponsor Howard Jarvis told us he had written the measure to destroy local government, a process which has been unfolding ever since. Now Chevron has decided to buy what’s left.