Energy Politicians’ Garner Utility Funds

By Published On: May 7, 2010

The re-election campaigns of three state senators who chair committees dealing with the energy industry have all received thousands of dollars in donations from investor-owned utilities and other industry players, state documents show. A fourth committee chair reports no energy-related funds for reelection. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), chair of the state Senate’s Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee, Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who heads the Assembly’s Utilities & Commerce Committee, and Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata), chair of the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee, have all received donations in the past year from at least one of the state’s three major utilities. Senate Natural Resources Committee chair Senator Fran Pavely (D-Agoura Hills) posts no utility funding. According to data from the California Secretary of State, leading the way in contributions is Padilla. His re-election campaign received sizeable donations from all three of the state’s major investor-owned utilities, as well as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and a handful of companies that deal in solar energy. The biggest contributor to Padilla’s re-election effort, according to the data, was IBEW Local 18, which donated a total of $13,700 between last August and March 29 of this year. Second-biggest was the California Solar Energy Industries Association, which gave $5,000 on March 16. Other big Padilla contributors include: -General Electric, $3,900; -NextEra, a Florida-based company that leads in California’s wind industry, $3,000; -First Solar $3,000; -Pacific Gas & Electric, $2,500; Southern California Edison, $2,000; -Sempra Energy; at least $1,400; and -Dynegy, ConocoPhillips and other energy companies that have given a combined total of over $10,000 to his re-election campaign so far. Bradford received over $11,100 in contributions to his re-election campaign from nine energy industry companies, including $6,500 from Southern California Edison and its parent company, Edison International; $2,750 from PG&E; and $1,900 from Sempra Energy. Chesbro’s re-election campaign has received at least $2,000 in donations from energy companies so far. Reported was $1,000 each from Edison, and from Reno, Nevada-based Sierra Pacific Power, which provides electricity to about 2.4 million customers throughout Nevada and northeastern California.

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