Energy firms and unions in California donated more than $3 million to politicians and campaigns in the first six months of this year, according to newly released state documents. The lack of statewide legislative elections meant the biggest donations went to local races, the governor's California Recovery Team, and the two major parties. The bulk of donations came from three companies. Edison International spent $1.27 million, ChevronTexaco $1.05 million, and Pacific Gas & Electric $833,000. The single biggest check was for $600,000, a loan from Edison to Moreno Valley Residents for Responsible Service. This was in addition to the $103,000 donation the utility gave the group to support this November's local Measure N, which is written to hamstring the town's new municipal electric utility (<i>Circuit<\/i>, May 14, 2004). Those donations echo the $670,000 donation and $1 million loan the utility gave to a similar group in Corona last year as part of its successful effort to wear down that city's public power ambitions. Sempra funded a similar group in San Marcos last year, spending $314,500 to keep the small city from ditching Sempra service. The next-biggest donation was from ChevronTexaco, dropping a half-million-dollar present in the lap of the state Republican Party April 1. That was on top of a $437,500 gift last September. The petrochemical company and liquefied natural gas developer gave a $100,000 tribute to Governor Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team. That was a "recipient committee" set up to support Propositions 57 and 58. Those initiatives legislated the governor's plan to borrow $10 billion to consolidate state debt and to prohibit ad hoc borrowing in the future. At the polls, Prop. 57 won with 63 percent in favor; Prop. 58 won with 71 percent. The Associated Press reported earlier this month that ChevronTexaco's open wallet helped secure the company access to the inner negotiations of the governor's California Recovery Plan, a statewide bureaucratic overhaul that could eliminate and rearrange energy agencies (<i>Circuit<\/i>, September 3, 2004). Among energy companies, ChevronTexaco's generosity to the California Recovery Team was matched by New West Petroleum, which also donated $100,000. Both were outdone by PG&E, which gave $150,000. However, the New West check was returned from the project. The administration also returned $50,000 to Sempra and $25,000 to Calpine. Energy firms erected a wall of donations to defend themselves against Proposition 56. That initiative would have made it easier to pass new state taxes and the state budget. ChevronTexaco spent $200,000 to oppose the measure, after having given an equal amount in 2003. Edison added $200,000 of its own. For several corporations, Prop. 56 was the only beneficiary so far this year: ExxonMobil spent $200,000 opposing it, BP America spent $135,000, and Shell and Valero each spent $100,000. None of these companies made other campaign donations (though some also gave to the Republican Party). PG&E kicked in $65,000 to oppose the measure. The initiative ended up with just 34 percent of the popular vote. For this November's initiatives, Edison donated $200,000 to Proposition 65, an effort to keep the state from raiding local treasuries during hard times. Energy companies accounted for more than 10 percent of all Republican donations, while they made up only 3 percent of donations to the Democratic Party. In addition to ChevronTexaco's half-million-dollar gift, this year PG&E gave $102,000, Edison $45,000, Duke Power $20,000, Caithness Energy $10,000, and Calpine a token $750. Last year, the Republicans got $575,000 from ChevronTexaco, $80,000 from Duke Power, $60,000 from Edison, $35,000 from PG&E, $66,000 from Sempra, $10,000 from Constellation Energy Group, and $6,000 from Calpine. For the Democratic Party, Sempra and PG&E each donated $100,000, Edison gave almost $170,000, and Caithness gave $12,000. Because of campaign finance rules, the donations to individual legislators were tiny compared to the soft-money donations to the parties. The biggest donation to a candidate was Edison's $6,400 gift to help pay off debt from the 2000 campaign when Russ Bogh (R-Yucaipa, which includes Moreno Valley) first ran for the Assembly. Bogh is on the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee and is the second-ranking Republican in the lower house. Since the beginning of the session, energy firms and locals of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have given notable gifts to members of the Assembly and Senate utilities committees. Between January and June, the representatives who accepted the most from the companies and unions they oversee were Assemblymembers Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), $23,300; Jerome Horton (D-Inglewood), $28,500; Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), $23,500; Joe Canciamilla (D-Martinez), $18,700; Doug LaMalfa (R-Redding), $15,500; and Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), $14,000. Senator Jim Battin (R-Moreno Valley) took in $16,600. Of the lawmakers listed, LaMalfa, Horton, and Calderon have the most energy-firm donations so far this year. Assemblymember Sarah Reyes (D-Fresno), who chairs the lower house's utilities committee, got donations from everyone in the business last year, even from minor players such as Reliant Energy, Clarus Energy, and Constellation. But with term limits sweeping her from office later this year, donors have abandoned Reyes and are lining up behind Fresno County supervisor Juan Arambula, who is running as a Democrat to replace her. Fabian N??ez (D-Los Angeles), with his powerful position as speaker of the Assembly, gained donations from Sempra, PG&E, ChevronTexaco, Duke, Reliant, and Caithness. However, only four donations arrived during the first half of this year (total: $7,700), compared to nine in the same period last year (total: $20,500). Republican Assembly leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) appears to be picking up the slack. He got just seven donations from energy firms in the first half of last year (total: $10,000) but has already picked up 10 this year (total: $20,700). Several registered major donors had not filed paperwork for 2003 and 2004 and could not be examined for this story. These include Dynegy, Enron, and Sunlaw Energy.