Candidate for Assembly District 15 Jovanka Beckles today stated:
“I was disturbed to learn this week that an independent expenditure committee supporting me, called the California African American PAC, is partly funded by corporations, billionaires, and interest groups like Chevron, Tesla, Sheryl Sandberg, and the California Medical Association.
“While I certainly appreciate the PAC’s goal of electing more African Americans to higher office in California and believe that we need more leaders of color at every level of government, I cannot in good conscience condone any spending on my behalf by corporations and individuals who are actively opposed to our agenda to put people over profit. If we want to advance the well-being of Black people — and workers of all colors — we must oppose corporations and billionaires trying to buy our political system.
“Big money has a corrosive effect on our democracy, particularly in the era of Citizens United, when billionaires and their corporations can spend unlimited money influencing elections. I do not take direct donations from corporations, corporate trade associations, or other wealthy interests.
“I disavow corporate spending on my behalf, and I call on my opponent Buffy Wicks, who has so far benefitted from $1,435,549 in independent expenditures from corporate PACs, to do the same.
“I am proud of my support in this race from progressive, fighting unions such as SEIU, CNA, CTA, and the Teamsters. Some of these are contributors to the California African American PAC and some have made other independent expenditures on my behalf.
“Progressive unions like these enable working people to pool their resources and fight for their interests. Unions disproportionately benefit workers of color and working women, leading to gains of 26% to 40% in wages and benefits for these historically marginalized populations. I am a union member and am proud to be building a movement in partnership with unions.
“In addition to backing from progressive unions and Native American tribal organizations, the California African American PAC has corporate backers whose interests in deregulation, corporate tax cuts, and privatization I categorically reject. These corporate contributors have degraded the quality of life of working people of color in California.
“For example, Tesla paid $5,000 into the PAC. The National Labor Relations Board has accused the automaker of union busting at its Fremont plant, which is also the target of a class action lawsuit brought by African American workers who allege a culture of pervasive racism on the shop floor.
“Another contributor is Chevron, a company I’ve been fighting for years in Richmond to clean up pollution and contribute positively to our city. In 2014, Chevron spent over $3 million in a losing battle against me and my colleagues from the Richmond Progressive Alliance in our run for the city council. We of the RPA are proud to have extracted $110 million dollars in new taxes from Chevron to benefit the residents of Richmond.
“As a Black Latina politician and I am proud of the love and support I’ve earned from communities of color in the East Bay. These communities know I fight for them every day against corporate interests who want to put profit ahead of people. In Sacramento, I will continue to fight for policies that transfer power and resources to working people of all races and nationalities, including Medicare for All, new social housing, free college tuition, and abolition of cash bail and private prisons.
“As long as corporations, billionaires and interest groups can use their wealth to control our political system, we will never achieve a world where working people — Black, white, brown, immigrant, native born, gay, or straight — are truly free.”