During the past decade, Pacific Gas & Electric Company spent more on political candidates, ballot measures, and lobbyists than did Chevron Corporation, Philip Morris USA, or the Western States Petroleum Association, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).
In the report “Big Money Talks” the FPPC detailed the top 15 spenders in California between January 2000 and December 2009. PG&E cracked the top 10, pumping about $69.3 million into the state Legislature during the past decade. That amount ranked the company at sixth on the list, just behind the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and just ahead of Chevron.
In this year’s Proposition 16 ballot measure, for example, PG&E has been the sole contributor and so far funneled at least $28.5 in support of the measure, according to the California Secretary of State. If passed, Proposition 16 would require local jurisdictions to acquire a two-thirds vote before establishing local public utilities, effectively ensuring a monopolistic chokehold for such private companies as PG&E, critics say.
The FPPC report highlighted past successful efforts PG&E made to defeat other ballot measures, including an $11 million campaign that killed Proposition H in San Francisco and more than $11 million to oppose an effort that would have annexed PG&E customers into the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
According to the FPPC, PG&E spent about $46.5 million on ballot measures over the decade ($3 million of which went toward Proposition 16). Candidates got about $4.7 million from the company, political parties received about $2.7 million, and another $3.4 million went to “other campaign committees.”
Additionally, PG&E spent about $12.2 million toward lobbyists. And when it came to choosing sides, the company chose instead to hedge its bets, giving about $1.3 million to the Democratic Party and about $1.27 million to the Republican Party.