EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is part of the ABC10 Originals project FIRE – POWER MONEY, a documentary series one year in the making. The series breaks down California’s wildfire crisis into its core elements. In FIRE, you’ll learn why California’s forest fires are deadlier than ever and why power lines are connected to some of the worst fires. In POWER, we show how electric company PG&E influences politics to protect its monopoly, despite being convicted of crimes and being blamed for starting many fires. In MONEY, we break down how much it will cost you, including the high-cost fire damage and the price of potential solutions.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Ninety-eight sitting members of the California legislature took campaign money from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company — after the company was convicted of six federal felonies and placed on probation with a mandatory court monitor.

The members include democrats and republicans. They also make up a vast supermajority of the statehouse: Eight out of every 10 sitting lawmakers.

The company was convicted in August 2016 and sentenced in January 2017, yet it went on to spend $4.4 million to influence California politics — and it was all legal. But was it right?

RELATED: Governor Newsom, most state lawmakers took money from convicted felon PG&E

“If it’s not illegal, it should be,” said former federal prosecutor Bill Portanova. “If these politicians who are voting on the future of PG&E are taking money from a convicted felon at the same time, then what good is this conviction? Is this all for show? Are we not supposed to pay attention to the man behind the screen?”

After its felony conviction, PG&E also donated $208,400 to help elect Gov. Gavin Newsom, and sent more than $550,000 to both the state Republican and Democratic parties.

That matters because the legislature and Newsom are in the middle of crafting a legislative package to help utility companies like PG&E stay financially solvent after starting wildfires.

In all, state lawmakers received more than $548,005 from PG&E in the last election cycle. All of those donations came after PG&E’s felony convictions for five crimes connected to the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion and a sixth for obstructing the federal investigation into the disaster, which killed eight people.

As of this publication, three members gave up money they’d accepted from PG&E. One only returned part of the contribution he received. The other two chose to donate all the money to charity.

THE 98 LAWMAKERS WHO TOOK PG&E MONEY 

NOTE: This list is updated and current as of July 10, 2019. The list begins with senators, followed by assembly members. It is sorted alphabetically by last name.

ABC10 sent emails to all 98 state lawmakers who accepted campaign money from PG&E from 2017 to 2018, after the company’s conviction and sentence of probation. All 98 lawmakers were sent a list of questions and given one week to respond, with a deadline of July 3 to have their responses included in this list. To find the name of your state legislators, click here. 

We asked each lawmaker to answer four questions:

  1. Given PG&E’s status as a convicted felon still serving a sentence, do you stand by your decision to accept campaign funds from them? Why or why not?
  2. Are you willing to refund (or give away as a donation) the contribution made to your campaign by PG&E?
  3. If not, how would you assure Californians of your impartiality as we deal with the pending crisis surrounding California’s utilities and wildfires?
  4. Should convicted felons be allowed to contribute to political campaigns? Why or why not?

SENATORS

Total PG&E donations to all senators 2017-2018: $138,774

Name: Benjamin Allen

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

Name: Bob Archuleta

Contributions: $4,400

Comments: Senator’s office said they would return the message at a later point, however, no message has been returned. On Tuesday, Fred Zermeno called ABC10 saying he would try to connect the Senator for a response, however, a call was not received.

Name: Patricia Bates

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Andreas Borgeas

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Steven Bradford

Contributions: $4,758

Comments: No response

Name: Anna Caballero

Contributions: $4,400

Comments: No response

Name: Ling Ling Chang

Contributions: $4,000

Comments: “If you have been following PG&E, you know that they have admitted responsibility for sparking wildfires in Northern California. As such, I have donated the $4,000 I received from them in 2017 to a nonprofit related to fire disaster relief and several local charities,” Sen. Chang wrote in an email to ABC10.

Donations were given to Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force/Waymakers, YMCA Fullerton, and California Community Foundation Wildlife Relief Fund.

Below are the Senator's full responses to the four questions:

  1. I have given away PG&E's contribution.
  2. Yes. I donated most of their contribution to a nonprofit related to fire disaster relief, and gave the remainder to two local charities.
  3. I am impartial; I gave away the money.
  4. No.

*A spokesperson for Sen. Chang's office responded to ABC10 after the July 3 deadline.

Name: Brian Dahle

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Bill Dodd

Contributions: $2,258.82

Comments: No response

Name: Maria Elena Durazo

Contributions: $3,400

Comments: “As a state Senator, I took an oath to abide by the legislature’s Code of Ethics. My vote or action are not influenced by a contribution,” said Senator Durazo in an emailed statement.

*The statement provided by the Senator did not address the inquiry regarding taking political contributions from felons.

Name: Steven Glazer

Contributions: $3,758.82

Comments: “When PG&E declared bankruptcy in January I grew concerned that their dire financial status would prevent them from compensating the victims of wildfires caused by their equipment,” Senator Glazer said in an emailed statement.

Senator Glazer had received a 2,258.82 non-monetary contribution and a $1,500 monetary contribution. He had written a check returning the $1,500 contribution to PG&E prior to these questions being asked. The Senator stood by his statement when asked to answer questions about the ethics of accepting funds from a felon.

Name: Shannon Grove

Contributions: $3,400

Comments: No response

Name: Robert Hertzberg

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Ben Hueso

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Brian Jones

Contributions: $6,000

Comments: No Response.

Name: Connie Leyva

Contributions: $1,000

Comments: No response

Name: Mike McGuire

Contributions: $1,000

Comments: No response

Name: John M.W. Moorlach

Contributions: $1,000

Comments: No response.

Name: Mike Morrell

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

Name: Jim Nielsen

Contributions: $6,400

Comments: No response

Name: Richard Pan

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Anthony Portantino

Contributions: $4,000

Comments: “I completely regret and apologize for this circumstance. Today [July 2], I made a $4000 donation to the Butte County Office of Education Schools Fire Relief Fund. I wanted to rectify my error by directing the funds to communities in need as I felt it appropriate to use the contribution for a needy purpose rather then returning it directly to the source,” said Senator Portantino in an email to ABC10.

Name: Richard Roth

Contributions: $3,000

Comments: No response

Name: Susan Rubio

Contributions: $5,000

Comments: No response

Name: Nancy Skinner

Contributions: $1,000

Comments: Senator Skinner declined to comment.

Name: Henry Stern

Contributions: $3,000

Comments: No response

Name: Bob Wieckowski

Contributions: $6,400

Comments: No response

Name: Scott Wiener

Contributions: $4,000

Comments: No response

Name: Scott Wilk

Contributions: $1,000

Comments: No response

ASSEMBLY MEMBERS

Total PG&E donations to all assembly members 2017-2018: $407,700

Name: Cecilia M. Aguiar-Curry

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Joaquin Arambula

Contributions: $4,000

Comments: No response

Name: Marc Berman

Contributions: $2,300

Comments: The questions were lodged to the Office of Asm. Marc Berman, however, staff redirected the inquiry to his campaign team. A message sent to his campaign team was not returned.

Name: Frank Bigelow

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Richard Bloom

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

Name: Tasha Boerner Horvath

Contributions: $4,400

Comments: No response

Name: Rob Bonta

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: William Brough

Contributions: $5,400

Comments: No response

Name: Autumn Burke

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Ian Calderon

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Wendy Carrillo

Contributions: $3,400

Comments: No response

Name: Sabrina Cervantes

Contributions: $8,400

Comments: The questions were lodged to the Office of Asm. Cervantes, however, they directed the inquiries to Derek Humphrey, who has worked as a campaign consultant for Cervantes. The inquiry was sent to a provided email, but it has not been returned.

Name: Phillip Chen

Contributions: $2,400

Comments: No response

Name: Steven Choi

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

Name: Kansen Chu

Contributions: $2,500

Comments: No response

Name: Ken Cooley

Contributions: $6,400

Comments: No response

Name: Jim Cooper

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Jordan Cunningham

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Tom Daly

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Tyler Diep

Contributions: $4,400

Comments: No response

Name: Susan Talamantes Eggman

Contributions: $4,400

Comments: No response

Name: Heath Flora

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Vince Fong

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Jim Frazier

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Laura Friedman

Contributions: $1,300

Comments: No response

Name: Jesse Gabriel

Contributions: $4,400

Comments: No response

Name: James Gallagher

Contributions: $8,400

Comments: No response

Name: Eduardo Garcia

Contributions: $8,400

Comments: No response

Name: Mike Gipson

Contributions: $5,900

Comments: No response

Name: Todd Gloria

Contributions: $5,000

Comments: No response

Name: Lorena Gonzalez

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Adam Gray

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Timothy Grayson

Contributions: $6,400

Comments: According to Matthew Powers, who serves as Asm. Grayson’s Chief of Staff, Asm. Grayson donated the entire amount to Northern California United Way for the benefit of wildfire victims. The donation was made in May 2019, before ABC10 submitted a media inquiry.

Name: Chris Holden

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Jacqui Irwin

Contributions: $4,500

Comments: No response

Name: Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr.

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Ash Kalra

Contributions: $1,500

Comments: No response

Name: Sydney Kamlager-Dove

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

Name: Kevin Kiley

Contributions: $4,000

Comments: Asm. Kevin Kiley donated all of the money he received from PG&E, including a $4,200 donation from 2016, to the North Valley Community Foundation on January 14, 2019, according to his Chief of Staff Joshua Hoover. The charity helps to support the survivors of the Camp Fire. 

*Asm. Kiley's Office reached out to ABC10 after the July 3 deadline.

Name: Tom Lackey

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Monique Limon

Contributions: $1,300

Comments: No response

Name: Evan Low

Contributions: $13,500

Comments: No response

Name: Brian Maienschein

Contributions: $4,000

Comments: No response

Name: Devon Mathis

Contributions: $8,400

Comments: No response

Name: Chad Mayes

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Kevin McCarty

Contributions: $3,000

Comments: No response

Name: Jose Medina

Contributions: $4,000

Comments: No response

Name: Melissa Melendez

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

Name: Al Muratsuchi

Contributions: $7,400

Comments: No response

Name: Adrin Nazarian

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

Name: Jay Obernolte

Contributions: $3,000

Comments: No response

Name: Patrick O’Donnell

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Jim Patterson

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Bill Quirk

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Sharon Quirk-Silva

Contributions: $6,400

Comments: No response

Name: James Ramos

Contributions: $4,400

Comments: No response

Name: Anthony Rendon

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Eloise Gomez Reyes

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

Name: Luz Rivas

Contributions: $6,400

Comments: No response

Name: Freddie Rodriguez

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Blanca Rubio

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Rudy Salas, Jr.

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Miguel Santiago

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Mark Stone

Contributions: $1,000

Comments: No response

Name: Phillip Ting

Contributions: $8,800

Comments: No response

Name: Randy Voepel

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

Name: Marie Waldron

Contributions: $3,000

Comments: No response

Name: Shirley Weber

Contributions: $1,000

Comments: No response

Name: Jim Wood

Contributions: $2,000

Comments: No response

*Editor's note: This list has been updated to include lawmakers who responded after the deadline that they had donated money received from PG&E.