A year ago when he was running for the job, state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, railed against a contribution by Chevron to an independent group supporting his Democratic opponent Leticia Perez. Now, its Vidak's turn to field criticism for accepting the oil company’s help.
Vidak, who beat Perez in a special election last year, is campaigning for a full four-year term against Democratic challenger Luis Chavez, a Fresno Unified School District trustee.
At issue in the race for the 14th Senate District is more than $150,000 in independent expenditures spent in support of Vidak by the Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class, an independent expenditure committee. The committee has received $1.5 million dollars from several oil companies, including Chevron.
Last year, Chevron pumped $100,000 into a similar organization called Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy. The organization spent $230,000 in support of Perez ahead of the May 23 special election.
At the time, some of Vidak‘s supporters were so unhappy with the oil company’s contribution that they threatened to boycott Chevron. Vidak also made an issue of the donations in political ads.
Vidak spokesman, Pete DeMarco, said he didn’t see a problem with this year’s support.
“It is an independent organization that makes its own decisions about how they spend their dollars,” DeMarco said. “Their contributions are done independently of our campaign.”
But Mark Scozzari, a campaign consultant working for Chavez, said: “What’s good for the goose is apparently good for the gander. And this also shows that all the hard work we have been putting in is starting to pay off. Vidak is running scared and he is worried about the results of this election. We, however, are feeling pretty good.”
Chevron officials said the company regularly supports many candidates, ballot measures and pro-business organizations and committees like Restore California’s Middle Class.
“Our approach is focused on supporting good government, free enterprise and economic progress through effective and responsible state leadership,” said Justin Higgs, company spokesman said in an emailed statement. “Chevron is committed to adhering to the highest standards of ethics and transparency in any political contributions we make. We have strict policies and internal approval processes for political contributions to ensure they comply with the letter and spirit of all applicable laws.”