by Kimberly Rivers
A political action committee (PAC) funded solely by an oil company called California Resources Corporation (CRC) has reported an income of $825,000 (through Feb. 17, 2020) to support and oppose several candidates in Ventura County Supervisor races. It has been funding television commercials targeting Carmen Ramirez, making claims that she says are false.
The current registered name of the PAC is “For a Better Ventura County Supporting Long and Herrera, and opposing Stephenson and Ramirez for Supervisor 2020, with major funding and sponsored by California Resources Corporation.” CRC is a spinoff company of the global corporation Occidental Petroleum, with CRC operating hundreds of oil wells across Ventura County.
As of Feb. 18, the PAC has spent $239,958 — more than on any other candidate — to oppose Ramirez, who is a vocal advocate for environmental causes and action on climate change, and has opposed new oil drilling projects in the Oxnard area.
The commercial makes several claims that say Ramirez benefits financially in various ways from her position as Mayor Pro Tem of Oxnard. One claim states Ramirez took a “free junket to China,” funded by the Chinese government.
“In August 2016, I was invited by California State Treasurer John Chiang to participate in a trade delegation with other elected officials and business leaders from Southern California and Nevada to promote the California economy, business and tourism,” said Ramirez. “There was no expense charged to Oxnard residents.”
The ad also mentions free lodging on a European trip, to which Ramirez explains that in her role as board member for the Center for Civic Education, a national non-profit organization that promotes democratic practice around the world, she was invited in 2013 to represent the center at a conference titled “Democracy and Minority Populations,” hosted by the German government. “I paid for the airfare and the German government provided accommodations and most meals for the weeklong conference. There was no expense to Oxnard residents.”
Amy Fonzo, a spokesperson with CRC, did not respond to a request for comment by press deadline.
The CRC PAC has spent $87,899 in support of Herrera’s campaign, one of the candidates running against Ramirez for the District 5 seat.
For District 3, the PAC has spent $112,373 for the re-election of Supervisor Kelly Long and spent the same amount in opposition to Kim Marra Stephenson, who is vying to unseat Long.
In 2016 during Long’s initial campaign, a PAC called Keep Ventura Working received about $150,000 from the oil and gas industry to support her election.
PAC funds are spent on campaign literature, consultants, polling, radio and television advertising and other associated expenses.
Election laws governing PACs prohibit a candidate or their campaign from consulting or being in contact with a PAC.
“WE ARE NOT FOR SALE” PRESS CONFERENCE Saturday, Feb. 22 11 a.m.-12 p.m. State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson will be joined by Dist. 5 Supervisor candidate, Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez and Dist. 3 Supervisor candidate Dr. Kim Marra Stephenson will speak about the unprecedented attempt to influence the local election. Oxnard Democratic Action Center, 555 South A Street, Suite 130, Oxnard.