Sempra Greased the Skids for Gloria and Council Democrats to Approve SDG&E Franchise Agreement

by on May 27, 2021 · 0 comments

in Energy, San Diego

By Frank Gormlie

On Tuesday, a “super-majority” of members of the San Diego City Council voted to approve Mayor Gloria’s proposed franchise agreement with SDG&E.

Councilmembers Jennifer Campbell, Stephen Whitburn, Chris Cate, Raul Campillo, Marni von Wilpert and Sean Elo-Rivera voted in favor while Joe LaCava, Vivian Moreno and Monica Montgomery’ Steppe voted no. Campbell, Whitburn, Campillo and von Wilpert are Democrats and Cate is the lone Republican on the Council.

Curious as to whether SDG&E or its parent company, Sempra, gave campaign contributions to any of these Democrats, I dug around some. Didn’t have to go far. Matt Potter over at the San Diego Reader answered most of my questions in his December 21, 2020 piece, entitled, “Sempra’s last-minute money fueled anti-Bry hit campaign,” with a sub-head of “Tortured trail of Democrats’ campaign cash leads to SDG&E’s back door”.

Potter described how “skeptics” of the Gloria and SDG&E dance around the bidding process predicted that Sempra’s “torrent of October campaign cash accompanying San Diego Gas & Electric’s sole bid to remain the city’s exclusive gas and electricity supplier for the next two decades is likely to carry the day for the Sempra Energy-owned utility ….”

Potter wrote:

“… Sempra’s cascade of campaign cash, which disclosures show ultimately benefited certain Democrats, including Todd Gloria, could strongly influence the outcome in favor of SDG&E. California campaign disclosure filings show that Sempra’s contributions grew sizably in the weeks leading up to the November 3 election.

Then he broke it down:

  • Sempra gave the San Diego County Democratic Party a total of $20,000 during the fall;
  • The County party contributed nearly $8,000 to the campaign of Marni von Wilpert;
  • County Dems gave roughly $11,000 to then-candidate Raul Campillo;
  • and candidate Steve Whitburn received $5,650 from the county chapter;
  • Sempra kicked in $25,000 to the Sacramento-based LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund;
  • The LGBT Leadership Fund gave a total of $80,000, to Neighbors for Housing Solutions Supporting Todd Gloria for San Diego Mayor 2020; ( Housing Solutions raised more than $1.3 million for a last-minute flurry of hit pieces against Gloria’s foe and fellow Democrat Barbara Bry, linking her to the policies of Donald Trump, local elected Republicans, and Qanon supporters.)
  • Sempra donated $20,000 to San Diego Works, a political action committee run by the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council AFL CIO;
  • San Diego Works donated $50,000 to Neighbors for Housing Solutions for Gloria’s campaign;
  • Sempra contributed $10,000 to the San Diego County Regional Chamber of Commerce;
  • The Chambers’s PAC gave Neighbors for Housing Solutions $80,000 in September.

So, Gloria, von Wilpert, Campillo, and Whitburn all received directly or indirectly funds for their campaigns from Sempra, the parent of SDG&E.

It was Gloria’s plan, and von Wilpert, Campillo and Whitburn all voted for it. Before the voting, did any of them disclose their campaign contributions from Sempra, or even better, sit out the vote due to conflict of interest? You know the answer – this is San Diego. And SDG&E will be around for another 20 years with us – probably.

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