Credit: courtesy

For the past many days I have been trying to absorb the shockwaves from the impact of the pro-Republican, pro-oil hit pieces sent out by the pro-Das Williams PAC formed by current county employee Cory Bantilan in conjunction with Democratic Party operative Mollie Culver. Apart from that incongruous alliance, I am particularly struck by the quotes from well known oil company lobbyists Chris Collier (Rincon Strategies, who represented Plains All American and Venoco) and Joe Armendariz on the pro-Das mailers. Collier states: “I find the choice between these two Democrats crystal clear — Das Williams is the only choice for Conservative voters in this election.”

I was chief of staff for former supervisor Janet Wolf from 2007-19. In her previous three elections and reelections, these same oil lobbyists invested much time and effort in trying to unseat her as they knew she would not do them any favors. Supervisor Wolf was board chair at the time of the devastating 2015 Plains All American Oil disaster and had to stand strong against these very same lobbyists as they attempted to ease the path for Plains and other oil companies, e.g., Venoco, to resume operations.

Plains is gearing up for upcoming Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors hearings in the next year in order to re-open their pipeline that traverses the county. Other oil company applications totaling almost 800 wells are also in some stage of environmental review in Santa Barbara County.  What possible reason would these veteran oil lobbyists have for going out on a limb for one Democrat against another? Such unprecedented allegiance to and promotion of a Democratic elected official who may likely be voting on a massive oil project should raise concerns or at least questions among erstwhile environmentalists.

I long ago endorsed Laura Capps as I have confidence that she will stand up relentlessly against the fossil fuel industry and any industry seeking to monetize land use in this county. This recent display of special interest lobbying just reinforces the wisdom of her candidacy.


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