Valero, “Working Families” & Benicia In the News

October 28, 2022 | Benicia Independent

Benicia mayor blasts deceptive Valero PAC flier

“A recent glossy mailer from the Valero PAC sent in support of Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada could not be more deceptive. It implies that all the members of the Council (who are pictured in the flyer) are supportive of their re-election. The fact is that NONE of the current Council (other than themselves) are supporting them.

“Vice Mayor Campbell and I are supporting and endorsing Terry Scott and Kari Birdseye for the two open Council seats, and Trevor Macenski has been neutral. We gave no permission for them to use our photos in this obvious attempt to confuse voters about whom we support.” [emph. added]

October 28, 2022 | Benicia Independent

Valero PAC floods Benicia with misleading mailers under new name

“The Valero PAC will look all innocent and point out that the front of the mailer is all about how their candidates enable the 5-member Council to cooperate to ‘get things done.’ Yeah, sure. That’s really slick, guys. Enough, maybe for a 2023 bonus for your PR team?”

September 22, 2022 | Benicia Independent

Join the movement to oppose Valero’s big money effort to control the Benicia City Council

"For too long, the Texas-based Valero Energy Corporation has used the “Working Families” VALERO PAC to spend massive amounts of money, and often used unfair campaign tactics, to get its preferred City Council and mayoral candidates elected. The PAC has refused to sign on to Benicia’s voluntary campaign pledge that limits how much it can spend and that require certain standards of honesty, decency and fairness in political ads, calls and mailers."

August 2, 2022 | Benicia Independent

Valero PAC Reports $226,000 on hand to influence Benicia's November elections

"Valero Political Action Committee files financial statement with City of Benicia on Aug 1, 2022."

March 11, 2022 | LA Times

Column: A small-city mayor takes on big oil and propaganda

“I understand that it’s legal,” Young said of the incredible amounts of cash sloshing around campaigns from the White House to City Hall. “I understand the Supreme Court said it’s OK. But it’s not right. And in my view it’s not democratic.”

February 15, 2022 | VallejoSun

Benicia's mayor calls out Valero's big war chest ahead of election

The refinery dumped $200,000 into its Working Families for a Strong Benicia PAC last December, giving the PAC more than $232,000 ahead of the November 2022 election, according to campaign forms submitted to the Benicia City Clerk’s Office. Typically, a Benicia council candidate can expect to receive more than $20,000 in contributions over the span of an election or about 10% of what Valero has available.

October 18, 2021 | KQED

Benicia Considers Proposal for City Hall to Fact-Check Political Ads During Elections

Since the 2016 election and the beginning of Donald Trump's presidency, misinformation has become one of the biggest issues in American politics, said Levinson."We are tackling a situation where there are more lies and there's more technology that allows us to lie than for sure the framers every dreamed of," she added.

At the same time, the local news industry, which traditionally acts like a fact-checking body, has been decimated. Benicia gets some news coverage but is often overshadowed by larger Bay Area cities like San Francisco and Oakland.

October 28, 2020 | KQED

Valero-Funded PAC Pours More Than $250,000 Into Benicia Mayor's Race

The two worst refinery accidents in the Bay Area in the last three years took place at Valero's Benicia refinery. A May 2017 power outage at the refinery led to a major release of toxic sulfur, prompting city leaders to call for an industrial safety ordinance. In March 2019, the plant had a series of malfunctions that led to another significant pollution release.

Patterson and Young have since pushed for the city to have more regulatory control over the refinery. Attacks from the Valero PAC followed.

October 30, 2018 | KQED

Valero-Backed Group Spends Heavily to Sway Benicia City Council Election

The committee has funded ads and an aggressive telephone campaign to influence the city's 19,000-plus registered voters. Experts say the magnitude of the spending in a small municipal election is unusual but that the Benicia campaign is part of a trend.