Dirty Money

Green is not necessarily good for environment.

All public offices are now officially for sale — thanks to last year’s disastrous U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to buy elections with unlimited corporate donations. The corporatizing of Congress and state legislatures has been discussed forever.  But the upcoming Nov. 2 election is an eye-opening example of Big Business aiming to further its interests to the detriment of our environment.

We have Texas Oil and the Koch Brothers trying to buy California’s air quality, the state’s economic future and a stabilized global climate through Prop. 23.  And some members of the auto industry have been funding the “No on Prop. 21” campaign because they fear opening the flood gates on vehicle license fees.  One would think that the folks that build cars would realize that people generally drive to state parks so protecting them and operating and maintaining them is probably good for the environment and good for the auto industry. And it’s hardly a surprise that the petrochemical industry has heavily backed Prop. 26, the initiative that would take away government’s fee programs to actually provide services like processing permits and regulating and enforcing pollution requirements.

The latest foray into corporate legislative takeovers is brought to you by our friends in the plastic bag manufacturing industry.  I’m not going to rehash the AB 1998 debacle, when the American Chemistry Council bought the state Senate vote opposing the bag ban bill. Evidently the ACC’s victory didn’t satisfy one member – South Carolina-based plastic bag manufacturer Hilex Poly Co.

On Oct. 19, Hilex threw $25K at the Sacramento County Democratic Central Committee, $3,900 at Assembly Republican leader Martin Garrick and $12,500 to the California Republican Party.  Earlier, Hilex had given the Democratic State Central Committee of California $10K right before the AB 1998 vote. Talk about bipartisan support!!!  Clearly, Hilex only has the protection of California jobs on its mind.  How noble.

The nobility included bankrolling mailers for Democratic Sens. Lou Correa from the O.C .and Curren Price from Culver City for upcoming elections.  Thousands of fliers bought and paid for by Hilex trumpet Correa’s and Price’s supposed environmental credentials. But here’s the kicker: They contain an ad for plastic bags!

 “Gray is the new green” says the mailer, although I’m not sure if that’s in reference to recycling or plasticizing our riparian vegetation with bags. The “truth about plastic bags” as stated in the mailer includes how they miraculously pick up pet waste, prevent disease, save California’s economy, reduce climate change impacts and cure cancer.  OK.  I only threw in the last one.

Wait.  There’s more!

Hilex bankrolled thousands of mailers slamming Republican Sen. Sam Blakeslee even though he never even supported AB 1998.  The mailer asked: “While Californians want clean air, water, oceans and hillsides, they also know that without jobs, we can’t pay for any of the resource preservation or services we value so highly. So why didn’t your senator, Sam Blakeslee, stand up when it came time to protect California jobs?”

Blakeslee got trashed and interpreted it as a warning to not work across the aisle, but as Hilex largesse demonstrates, its minions work both sides of the aisle very well.  Finally, we have bipartisan support for something:  corporate infusions of cash on electoral and legislative politics.

Somehow I’m sure that Hilex execs aren’t being quite as generous with abundant resources to support Prop. 21 and oppose Props. 23 and 26, despite the fact that their mailers imply that John Muir, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold and David Brower would be proud to call them friends.

And yet again, the latest outpouring of polluter money is tarnishing our Golden State.  When will the public get angry about polluter takeovers of the legislative and electoral process?  How many “Gas Lands” and Prop. 23s do we need to see before we get true electoral and legislative reform?

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