The $50,000 inauguration of Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) sparked some controversy because it was paid for by the California Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation, which raises its money from a who's who of special interests that lobby the Legislature.
ExxonMobil, which gave $4,000 to the foundation, joined Chevron in a coalition this year that killed legislation that would have put a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in California. The bill failed by five votes in the Senate after nine Democrats voted no or abstained. Three of the four Democrats who voted against the bill and two senators who abstained, including Lara, were members of the 24-person Latino Caucus.
De Leon was one of two caucus members who voted for the moratorium. Chevron made its donation to the foundation a month before the vote that killed the moratorium bill.
"The fact that the oil industry tries to use its enormous profits to buy influence around our state is a huge problem for California communities threatened by fracking pollution," said Kassie Siegel, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, when asked about the donations.
Foundation spokesman Roger Salazar said the public had no reason to be concerned about donations to the group.