We’re not running against an incumbent, we’re running against dirty money.
It seems pretty obvious who we are running against, right? We’re running against the incumbent in California’s Assembly District 53. But that’s not actually true.
In our view: politicians are a battlefield. Electeds aren’t just one person. They are the individual that is short hand for the office made up of staffers. They are the face of the donors and their agenda. They are an instrument for our community to exercise power.
But our communities can’t exercise power when dirty money sets the agenda. What we need will always come second to the deep pocketed corporations and their lobbyists.
When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.
– Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page
The answer is to get money out of politics. Matching funds for local candidates in some California cities are a good step, but we need to expand these systems. And we need to create a system to support grassroots candidates for state offices. Right now, Assembly candidates don’t get matching funds. They have a higher maximum donation amount. This is a formula that increases the influence of wealthy donors over candidates.
That’s why we’re not running against a candidate. We are running against some of the dirtiest money in the state of California.
Our opponent has managed to build a 7 figure war chest with cash from corporations and PACs.
So, who are we running against?
Here’s a partial list of corporations and PACs that have funded our opponent since his first campaign in 2014.
California Association of Realtors: $39,000
CAR was one of the main opponents of Proposition 10. Prop 10 would have legalized rent control by repealing Costa-Hawkins. CAR spent big money to keep tenants burdened with high rents to lubricate the eviction machine.
Peace Officers Research Association: $29,300
Peace Officers Research Association is the PAC for police unions across the state. They are partially funded by tax money. And they use this money to oppose needed reforms like SB 1421, which brings transparency to police misconduct. Currently, they are fighting against AB 392, a bill that would reduce police violence.
Clear Channel Communications: $23,200
With a combined total of $55,800 in contributions is it any wonder that they were able to nearly gut Net Neutrality in the state of California? Along with other telecom corporations, AT&T and Clear Channel have shown just how powerful their donations can be. SB 822 was passed into law with strong consumer protections because of sustained and robust public pressure.
Pacific Gas and Electric: $21,000
PG&E is one of the largest utilities in the state. Their negligence caused the Camp Fire which destroyed Paradise, CA and killed 88 people, mostly elderly who burned alive in their homes. Over the years they have been linked to multiple wildfires. Time and again they put profits over people resulting in destruction and death.
Sempra Energy: $18,200
Sempra deals in natural gas extraction and storage. They failed to maintain wells at Aliso Canyon, resulting in the largest methane leak in history. To this day residents of Porter Ranch suffer health effects, including respiratory problems and cancer.
Edison International: $19,700
Edison was responsible for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which has finally been shuttered because of faulty maintenance. There are still tons of nuclear waste stored close to a school and residential neighborhood.
Chevron Corporation: $16,300
Chevron is one of the largest oil companies on the planet. They have a history of extracting oil while poisoning our ecosystems. But they also have a global reach, having brought destruction to the global south.
Anschutz Entertainment Group: $15,400
AEG is responsible for displacing an entire neighborhood to make way for the LA Convention Center and LA Live. They also put on Coachella, which is being rocked by more accusations of adequately protecting attendees from harassment. Philip Anschutz has a history of donating to anti-LGBTQ campaigns across the country.
California Apartment Association: $15,300
CAA is not a group of tenants, but landlords. They spent big to oppose Prop 10 and allow their members to charge sky high rents. If there are tenant protections being debated in California, CAA will always been on the side of capital.
What can we do about it?
In short? Donate.
That’s a lot of money that we just listed above, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. If regular Angelenos are going to have a say in government we need to stop the toxic influence of donors.
Until we get to Sacramento to build a real public financing system we don’t have many options, other than to build a grassroots base. Your contribution isn’t just a way for our campaign to cover overhead, it’s how we leverage out power to win.
Small campaigns like ours aren’t looking to pay 6 figure salaries to consultants. We want to pay to put gas in our volunteers’ cars. To rent space for community meetings. To bring our constituents to Sacramento to tell us what you need.
We’ve got a big hill to climb and we need your help. Just like grassroots candidates across the nation. Our movement is going to win because WE are all in this together.
Never give up!