In the last few years, one of the biggest topics in the general area
of government ethics, including campaign finance, lobbying, and
transparency, has been the effect of huge campaign contributions by
corporations and billionaires, which has become increasingly doable pursuant
to a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
These decisions do not appear to have had as much effect at the
local level as at the national and state levels. I did do one
blog post a year ago
on how local spending by an organization
funded primarily by a couple of billionaires backfired. The same
post also discusses the old-fashioned problem: local union and
business association expenditures.
According to an
article that appeared this weekend in the Contra Costa (CA) Times
, the oil company Chevron has
given nearly $3 million to three "independent" committees that have
supported Richmond candidates sympathetic to its local refinery
(the city's largest employer) and opposed candidates critical of it,
who had filed a suit against Chevron in 2013, related to safety
issues. Although presented as coalitions "of labor unions, small businesses, public
safety and firefighters associations," the
committees have received only a few thousand dollars from the two
Is this sort of massive campaign expenditure ostensibly to protect a
financial investment corrupting? If so, in what way?