For the past week it was Assembly Candidates Dan Wolk and Cecilia-Aguiar Curry who sparred over independent expenditure contributions, with the Wolk campaign sending out a a press release accusing “oil giants” of spending hundreds of thousands in independent expenditures in support of his opponent, Winters Mayor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry.
Her campaign fired back that she supports a moratorium on fracking and accused Mr. Wolk of distorting her comment at a Sierra Club candidates’ forum.
Yolo County Supervisor and former Davis Mayor Don Saylor had stayed out of the fray, but, on Tuesday, Don Saylor’s campaign issued a press release of its own, denouncing outside spending in the Assembly campaign, which by the weekend had topped $1.3 million for and against two candidates.
The press release states, “Over the weekend, JobsPAC and the California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee spent $100,600 to support Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and a group called Keep Californians Working has sent a negative flyer attacking Dan Wolk. In addition, the independent expenditure committee, Coalition for a Healthy Community Supporting Wolk and Opposing Aguiar-Curry for Assembly 2016, spent $40,188.67 to oppose Curry. Last week, Wolk decried outside spending in Assembly District 4 by launching a video that attacked Curry.”
Supervisor Saylor said, “It is disappointing to see Big Money play such a large role in our elections and to see this attack mentality emerging in this race. It is clear which candidates the lobbyists and special interests feel align with their interests. I’m the candidate For the People. When I get to the State Capitol, I will not have to answer to Big Oil, Big Tobacco, or special interests groups that have poured in soft money to support the other candidates.
“In the Assembly, I will advocate for reforms of California’s campaign finance system that will regulate outside spending. There are good reasons to cap financial contributions to election campaigns. The independent expenditures supporting candidates for office serve as a vehicle for big corporations and interest groups to get around normal contribution limits for individual donors.”
Mr. Saylor continued, “Big Money has a chilling effect on our political process. Just a few months ago – after reportedly feeling pressure from Big Soda – candidate Dan Wolk voted against placing a sugar-sweetened tax on the ballot that would have generated much needed revenue for healthy living programs.”
He added, “Candidate Cecilia Aguiar-Curry’s campaign has benefitted from well over a million dollars in outside spending, paid for by Big Oil, Big Tobacco and other deep pocket interest groups and corporations. In the Assembly, I will work to level the playing field and get Big Money out of politics.”
Independent expenditure money started pouring into the race for Dan Wolk this weekend for the first time. The Coalition for a Healthy Community reported spending $20,229 in support of Mayor Dan Wolk’s campaign over the weekend, in addition to $40,000 for mailers opposing Cecilia Aguiar-Curry. That coalition is funded with $50,000 from the California Nurses Association and $53,500 from Consumer Attorneys of California.
But the war was on before that. Last Monday, Dan Wolk’s Assembly campaign released a statement, “Oil giants, including Chevron, Valero and Tesoro have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Cecilia Aguiar-Curry’s bid for Assembly District 4 over the last two weeks, according to state campaign finance filings. These independent expenditures came as Aguiar-Curry said at a League of Women Voters forum in Woodland that the ‘jury’s still out’ on the practice of fracking.”
The statement continues, “The Coalition To Restore California’s Middle Class has spent $325,000, mostly on cable television advertising in the 4th Assembly District. The group is funded entirely by large oil companies. Overall, outside groups, including groups largely funded by big oil and tobacco companies, have spent over $1 million supporting Aguiar-Curry. A full list of the expenditures and funders can be found below.
“The oil companies’ expenditures for Aguiar-Curry began on May 5, the day after she said at a League of Women Voters forum in Woodland that she felt ‘the jury is still out’ on fracking. Oil companies have heavily lobbied the legislature for relaxed regulations on the practice of fracking, which many scientists believe is environmentally dangerous.”
Davis Mayor Dan Wolk immediately criticized Aguiar-Curry’s statement about fracking at the forum and pointed out the dangers for our state and region. “A video of the exchange can be found at www.danwolk.org/bigoil,” his campaign claims.
“Big oil is trying to buy a seat in the Assembly for their chosen candidate, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, because she has shown she will not resist their attempts to hurt our environment. I won’t stand for that,” said Dan Wolk in a statement. “I have spent my career taking on special interests like big oil and I will continue to fight for our environment in the Assembly.”
Mr. Wolk, the release states, “also supports an oil severance tax as a means of funding important state programs, like transportation, schools and health care. California is the only major oil-producing state in the country without such a tax. He has built a strong environmental record as Mayor of Davis, which earned him the endorsement of the California League of Conservation Voters, the environmental movement’s political arm, and environmental leaders like Senator Fran Pavley.”
However, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry immediately shot back, stating, “I responded directly to my opponent regarding an edited video posted on his Facebook page about my position on fracking. I’ve included a snapshot of that comment, as it was taken down by his campaign after it was well received by the public and supporters.”
The screen shot indicates, “The brief, edited clip you reference above is not an accurate representation of my feelings about fracking.”
Ms. Aguiar-Curry notes that “the jury is still out” statement was in fact “in reference to finding more information in regard to this practice.”
She says, “As I have stated in multiple endorsement surveys, and in other forums where you were present, I support a moratorium on fracking because of serious concerns that have been raised about the impact on the environment.”
She states that her direct quote to the Sierra Club in March was, “I believe that a moratorium on fracking would be prudent so we can study its overall impacts to our environment.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting