Chevron-Funded Super PAC Boosted Oil-Friendly Dem in California Congressional Primary

California Democrat Adam Gray advanced in the CA-13 primary after the super PAC ran ads for him, facing a candidate endorsed by state environmental groups.

Chevron-Funded Super PAC Boosted Oil-Friendly Dem in California Congressional Primary
An oil rig south of town extracts crude on July 21, 2008 in Taft, California.

One month after receiving its first-ever donation from Chevron, a super PAC with deep ties to the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative House Democrats spent tens of thousands on ads to help a Democratic California state legislator known as an ally for Big Oil defeat a Democrat endorsed by environmentalist organizations in the primary for an open seat in the U.S. House.

According to a disclosure filed yesterday with the FEC, Center Forward Committee spent $60,000 in May to produce and promote digital ads supporting Adam Gray, a California assemblyman, who was facing Democrat Phil Arballo and multiple Republicans in the open primary for California’s 13th Congressional District. 

The group spent the money in support of Gray shortly after receiving a $100,000 donation from California-based oil giant Chevron on April 26, according to the disclosure. It was the first time Chevron had donated to Center Forward Committee since the super PAC was formed in 2014. All of Chevron’s other super PAC donations since 2014 have gone to groups that back Republican candidates, according to FEC data. 

The ads tout Gray’s “independence” and say that he is ready to work on protecting water access and lowering crime rates. They ran on Facebook from May 31 until election day on June 7. 

Asked about the Chevron-funded super PAC’s ads, Gray’s spokesperson Mike Lynch told Sludge, “Adam led the fight that suspended the diesel tax and is working to reduce taxes on gasoline.” Chevron’s spokesperson defended the company’s donation by telling Sludge, “Chevron supports organizations that recognize the importance of sound energy policy. Our goal is to help shape effective, responsible and non-partisan U.S. energy policy that supports our ambition to deliver affordable, reliable, and ever-cleaner energy.” Chevron discloses spending millions of dollars annually to support trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute that lobby against measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.