In the interest of clean elections and clean air, we are residents of Benicia and surrounding communities who ask you, a Texas-based Fortune 50 company, to stop using your “Working Families” political action committee (PAC) and tremendous resources to influence our city council and mayoral elections. Valero has been the sole contributor to this PAC in 2022.
If you nevertheless persist in funding the PAC, we ask that you limit your spending and campaign practices in order to:
abide by Benicia’s Contribution and Spending Limits Ordinance, which limits individual donations to $640 per candidate, and similarly curtail the PAC’s massive non-donation spending through mailings, ads, phone calls and polling;
also abide by Benicia’s Voluntary Code of Fair Campaign Practices, which sets ethical standards for campaign practices; and
in any Working Families online, printed and other materials, clearly and prominently inform the public that you, Valero, are the main funder of the PAC.
Instead of complying with the Spending Limits Ordinance, Working Families PAC has spent over $200,000 in each of the last elections, backing one or two candidates and opposing others.This puts Benicia residents and candidates at a huge disadvantage. Since the City adopted its campaign finance ordinance, ALL of the candidates have signed a pledge to campaign ethically and abide by the City's spending limits and standards. Yet, your PAC has NEVER agreed to follow the rules that everyone else must abide by. You are by far the dominant spender on Benicia's elections, dwarfing the expenditures of all candidates combined.
In the interest of “decency, honesty and fair play,” the Code asks that candidates and PACs pledge to not use “character defamation, libel, slander, or scurrilous attacks . . . including whispering campaigns involving such statements.” Past elections have seen the Working Families PAC violate this prohibition by calling candidates “job killers,” using photo manipulation, misrepresenting candidate’s records, and engaging in negative campaigning that has divided our community.
WHAT DOES VALERO WANT?
Elections have consequences. One can only wonder at your goals and intentions in funneling so much money into elections which should only be decided by Benicia voters. The issues that have been or could be considered by the City Council, and that you might look to influence, include:
whether you would bring back to Benicia the potentially deadly “Crude-by-Rail” project proposal that the Council defeated in 2016, which would have brought through our industrial park the kind of fuel-carrying railroad cars that derailed, exploded and killed 47 people in a Canadian city in 2013;
your unreported release into Benicia’s air of toxic emissions over 200 hundred times* in excess of legal limits, reaching back to 2003;
your requests to lower your property tax assessment, which impacts city finances; and
your relatively low water rate payments, given that you use 60 percent of our raw water.
None of our requests are intended to prevent you or your employees from having a voice in Benicia’s election. We only ask it not drown out Benicians’ voices.
Nor do we doubt the integrity or dedication of Valero’s hardworking employees, some of them our neighbors. But in order to be a good neighbor, the Corporation needs to contribute to clean elections and clean air.
OUR MESSAGE TO VALERO AND THE WORKING FAMILIES PAC
Keep your PAC out of our elections.
If you will not do that, then sign Benicia’s Voluntary Code of Fair Campaign Practices, limit your donations to $640 per candidate just like everyone else in Benicia, and similarly limit your non-donation spending through polling, ads, calls and mailings.
Be a good neighbor—make our elections clean and fair.
Benicians for Clean Elections
Benicia’s Good Neighbor Steering Committee
Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community