Tag Archives: Valero PAC

Valero PAC lays out $10,000 for big social media buy, total now at $73K

By Roger Straw, November 1, 2022

Roger Straw, The Benicia Independent

Late today, Benicia City Clerk Lisa Wolfe posted two more campaign finance reports submitted by the Valero PAC.  These reports shed light on the expenditure of an additional $18,698.61 to elect their preferred candidates for Benicia City Council.

$10,000 of this amount is for a massive social media campaign. The PAC has already set up a Facebook page.

The remaining amount, approximately $8,700, is for another misleading mailer.

With this additional outlay, the PAC has spent a total of $73,095.83 just in the last week of October.

Disclosed in these two reports are the actual images – 8 new full color ads, once again including subtly deceptive positioning of photos of Benicia’s Mayor and Vice-Mayor, suggesting that they support Valero’s chosen candidates.  Mayor Young and Vice-Mayor Campbell have not supported Valero’s candidates.  Both have endorsed Kari Birdseye and Terry Scott.

The ads all portray Valero’s chosen two as significant players in a City Council that gets things done.  “Christina Strawbridge, Lionel Largaespada, and City Councilmembers led Benicia through COVID-19.” “Christina Strawbridge, Lionel Largaespada, and City Councilmembers  Support our first responders.”

Valero seems to have learned a lesson in 2020: wait to spend your fortune in the last few weeks, and don’t bash your opposition directly – only by hint and suggestion.

The PAC has now spent over $73,000, twice what any legitimate human resident candidate’s campaign can spend. And that leaves about $160,000 in their war chest. Who knows how much they will pay out in the final week before the November 8 election?

>> And that’s a question with no forthcoming answer. The PAC will not be required to file another report until after the election, covering the period 10/31/22 – 11/8/22. This form will be due in the Benicia City Clerk’s office on 11/11/22.

The following links go to the City of Benicia website, displaying the PAC’s 2 latest reports, including images of their ads:

Note that others in Benicia are keeping an eye on Valero’s meddling in our elections – check out Benicians For Clean Elections at https://www.beniciansforcleanelections.org/

See also my page of support for candidate Kari Birdseye here on the BenIndy.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know if/when we learn more.

Roger Straw
The Benicia Independent

Previously on the BenIndy…

Jan Cox Golovich: Many thanks to those exposing Valero’s corrupt influence

The overwhelming response from the community when Valero’s campaign contributions and deceptive practices are exposed is one of outrage.

By Jan Cox Golovich, November 1, 2022

Jan Cox Golovich, Benicia CA

I would like to express my appreciation to the many community people who have worked diligently to expose the corruption of our local city council elections with Valero’s efforts to buy council seats for Strawbridge and Largaespada during the last three election cycles (2018,2020,2022) Specifically, I would like to thank Lawrence Dutch with his Letters to the Editor, Andres Soto via his radio show on KPFA, leaders of the newly formed group Benicians for Clean Elections and Roger Straw, Editor and Publisher of the Benicia Independent.

Valero has poured massive amounts of money to secure these seats for their hand-picked candidates Strawbridge and Largaespada. In 2018 and 2020, they spent $445,000 buying ads, bombarding us with endless phone calls and smearing good, honest candidates. As far as I can tell in my research, this is an unprecedented amount for a small town of 28,000 people. Presently, Valero has a war chest of over $225,000 for the 2022 election. They have sent out deceptive mailers and conducted phone banks promoting their candidates disguised as a neutral “poll” These last minute maneuvers are difficult to counter, as they hide many of their expenditures until AFTER the election.

The overwhelming response from the community when Valero’s campaign contributions and deceptive practices are exposed is one of outrage. We cannot tolerate or accept this as the status quo in our town. The community displayed its intolerance in 2020 when Strawbridge was trounced in her bid for the Mayor’s seat, despite the massive financial backing of Valero. Yet, Valero has persisted in building its campaign coffers and coming up with even dirtier tactics.

Sadly, our elected officials have displayed an astonishing disconnect from its outraged electorate and rather than criticize Valero for corrupting our elections, they have turned on the very community people who have exposed it. The two beneficiaries of Valero’s campaign funds feign ignorance as to why Valero would support them with these massive amounts of money and complain that those exposing these “facts” are engaging in “negative campaigning”. Another elected official writes a letter to the editor calling the attacks on Valero “over-the-top”, ignoring the fact that the money Valero pours into our elections to buy council seats is much more egregious. Yet another councilmember writes a tone-deaf letter to the editor saying that Strawbridge and Largaespada would make good council members and calls for their detractors to “stop talking trash.” Strawbridge and Largaespada may make great council members for Valero, but their ability to do good for the community is completely compromised by Valero’s sponsorship.

I have lived in this town close to forty years and have always been proud of the strong voice of the community that comes together and stands up for what is right. Whether it’s preserving open space, cleaning up toxic waste, blocking petroleum coke domes on the waterfront or fighting against exploding Bakken oil trains, this community has ALWAYS won the fight; we have done this despite opposition from City Hall and powerful monied interests. I have no doubt that we will go back to having clean and honest elections one day very soon. Thanks to all that are making this happen.

Jan Cox-Golovich
Former Benicia City Councilmember

More letters, news & links about the 2022 election, Kari Birdseye and Terry Scott here on the BenIndy

And best of all – Kari’s website!

Benicia to Protest Valero Election Meddling This Wednesday 5pm

By email, October 31, 2022

Protest Rally against Valero’s Pollution of Benicia’s Elections!

What: Rally in protest of Valero’s meddling in local elections (please bring a sign)
Where:  Near SW corner of 1st Street and Military Way, Benicia, below park gazebo
When: Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 5 pm

Benicians have had enough of the huge, Texas-based Valero Energy Corporation meddling in our small city’s elections.

A protest is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 5pm, below the park gazebo near the southwest corner of 1st Street and Military Way in Benicia.

This is the third election cycle in which Valero has dedicated up to $200,000, in a city of only 28,000, to elect its preferred city council and mayoral candidates. It has sent misleading and untruthful ads to residents, and used scare tactics on social media.

This years’ tactics involve Valero’s funded PAC sending misleading mailers which can confuse Benicians about this year’s city council election. One deceptive mailer places photos of Mayor Steve Young and Vice Mayor Tom Campbell next to those of Valero’s chosen candidates, Lionel Largaespada and Christina Strawbridge, clearly implying support from the two officials. In fact, Young and Campbell have both endorsed Kari Birdseye and Terry Scott for city council, not the Valero-backed candidates.

Mayor Young has decried Valero’s mailer.

Another Valero PAC mailer stresses public safety, despite the company’s actions threatening harm to our city. For 15 years, its Benicia-based refinery secretly released massive levels of toxins into the city’s air; we only learned of this in 2022. From 2012 through 2016, it unsuccessfully fought to bring potential deadly “oil bomb” trains – the kind that exploded and killed 47 people in one Quebec town – through Benicia, which one of their candidates, Lionel Largaesapda supported.

In 2018 and 2020, Valero-funded PACs launched smear campaigns against candidates they opposed. They employed fear tactics, photo manipulation, untruths, and push polls, and, like this year, buried Valero’s funding in the small print of its publications.

Very recently, it changed the PAC’s name, perhaps to mislead Benicians into thinking its participation had ended.

This all raises many questions: What does Valero want from the candidates it supports? Why dedicate $600,000 to campaign spending in just four years here? Why be so misleading?

Concerned Citizens of Benicia

Recently on the BenIndy…


Benicia to Protest Valero Election Meddling This Wednesday 5pm

From an email, October 31, 2022

Join concerned citizens
for a protest of Valero’s deceptive meddling in our City Council election!

Wednesday, November 2nd at 5:00pm
orner of First St. & Military St.,
below the gazebo

Recently on the BenIndy…