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Pete Wilson (Honorary Baron)

Bromide Baron Rap Sheet #8
Political Ecology Group
March 31st, 1997

Governor, State of California
Address: State Capitol, First Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814
Tel: (916) 455-2841
Fax: (916) 455-4633

When a state law threatened to kick in and ban methyl bromide in California, Governor Pete Wilson successfully moved to delay the implementation of the law by calling a special session of the State legislature -- a maneuver usually reserved for earthquakes and floods. Wilson justified his tactics by arguing that "if we are to remain a competitive economic force...we must act now to prevent the suspended use of methyl bromide."[1]

While such argumentation is questionable at best, Wilson's support for methyl bromide has certainly helped make him a powerful economic force in the political arena. Consider the following:

Between 1993 and 1995 Pete Wilson received more than $500,000 from corporations with strong vested interests in perpetuating the use of methyl bromide.

Documented Instances of Wilson accepting campaign donations from the Barons of Bromide include:

  • In 1993 the California nursery industry raised $53,000 for Wilson while his adminstration was considering restrictions on methyl bromide. Three months later Wilson went back on an earlier decision and canceled a regulation that would have required widespread public notification whenever methyl bromide was used.[2]

  • Between January 1993 and September 1995, Governor Wilson accepted nearly $100,000 from a number of members of an industry association known as the Methyl Bromide Coordinating Committee, including: California Farm Bureau Federation, California Strawberry Commission, California Association of Nurserymen, California Grape & Tree Fruit League, Sun-Diamond Growers, Tri-Cal Inc., and the Agricultural Council.[3]

  • The Western Growers Association, which is strongly tied to the strawberry and methyl bromide industies (TriCal CEO Dean Storkan is on its board), gave Wilson's campaign fund more than $30,000 in 1994.[4]

  • Sun-Diamond Growers, which has lobbied heavily for methyl bromide, was a top contributor to Wilson's campaign for governor in 1993, weighing in with more than $190,000. Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery contributed a similar amount in the same year.[5]

  • Various corporate executives have also donated to Wilson's electoral funds. These include the Presidents and CEOs of at least five of the eight major strawberry corporations, who have personally given Wilson thousands of dollars.[6] Dean Storkan, Presdient of Bromide Baron Tri-Cal Inc. together with his wife, Joanne, donated more than $3,000 to Wilson's aborted run for president in 1995 and 1996.[7]

Of course, it is no secret that Pete Wilson serves the interests of California's most powerful corporations. As the Los Angeles Times puts it, most of Wilson's campaign contributions have come, "from major corporations and interest groups with a stake in legislation and regulations decided in Sacramento." The Times reports that the Governor often accepts contributions from corporations at the time he is considering regulations affecting their industries. For instance, in 1993 Wilson took money from insurance companies while signing bills to weaken Proposition 103, which mandated tighter regulation of insurance rates. In the same year he received more than $40,000 in donations and in-kind services from oil corporations Arco and Texaco on the eve of the introduction of a new diesel fuel protested by truck drivers as more costly and destructive to their engines. During roughly the same time Wilson also took $50,000 from the Louisiana Pacific timber corporation; two months later he ordered the state to speed up its approval of logging permits, despite environmentalists' objections.[8] The case of methyl bromide only reinforces the argument that Governor Wilson peddles his executive powers to the highest bidders.


Endnotes

  1. Jenifer Warren, "Wilson Moves to Delay Ban on Fumigant," The Los Angeles Times, December 30, 1995.
  2. Daniel M. Weintraub, "Groups with Stake in State Top Wilson's Donor List: Major Corporations, Organizations with Interest in Legislation, Regulations are Prime Contributors," The Los Angeles Times February 27, 1994.
  3. MBAN, "Contributions to Pete Wilson by the Methyl Bromide Coordinating Committee," Methyl Bromide Alternatives Network, Fact Sheet, n.d..
  4. Strawberry Workers Campaign, Five Cents for Fairness: The Case for Change in the Strawberry Fields, AFL-CIO and the United Farm Workers, November 1995, Washington, DC, p. 13.
  5. The San Francisco Chronicle, March 19, 1996.
  6. The Strawberry Workers Campaign, Five Cents for Fairness, p. 13.
  7. In 1995-96, the Storkans gave nearly $18,000 to Wilson, other candidates for federal office, the California Republican Party, and the Western Growers Association Political Action Committee. Federal Electoral Commission data from the Environmental Working Group online database.
  8. Daniel M. Weintraub, "Groups with Stake."