Chevron Corp. is spending millions of dollars on a Richmond, Calif., city council election in an attempt to “buy” the council, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDon't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs MORE (I-Vt.) said.
The second largest oil company in the U.S., which operates a massive refinery in Richmond, has donated at least $3 million to elect candidates who would be friendly to it, Sanders charged. The city is across the bay from San Francisco.
Sanders said he is heading to Richmond to participate in a Thursday town meeting to support Gayle McLaughlin, the current mayor and Chevron critic who is running for council.
“Chevron is trying to buy the Richmond City Hall. We can’t let them get away with it,” Sanders said in a statement. “This is not what democracy is supposed to be about.”
He blamed the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission for weakening campaign finance rules and allowing Chevron’s injection of funds.
“Over the past decade Chevron has made more than $200 billion in profits ripping off Americans at the gas pump, even as it has paid hundreds of millions in fines for polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, violating health and safety laws and evading taxes,” he said.
“We cannot allow a company like Chevron that has thumbed its nose at the law to buy politicians.”
The statement was released days after a Los Angeles Times columnist accused Chevron of trying to influence the election with $3 million in donations to favorable candidates and against McLaughlin.
Sanders, who describes himself as a democratic socialist, is backing a constitutional amendment to reinstate the campaign finance rules that Citizens United overturned.