Governor Jerry Brown has just appointed two radical environmental justice activists to the California Public Utilities Commission, replacing two commissioners whose terms expired January 1, 2017.
Awaiting Senate confirmation are Clifford Rechtschaffen and Martha Guzman Aceves — two Brown insiders with shady records and a history of Environmental Justice.
Don’t let the term “Environmental Justice” fool you. This “justice” is not about protecting poor and low income communities from excess pollutants or toxic materials; it is about environmental extremists’ scheme to spread wealth through government mandates. Remember President Obama’s EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz on video describing his enforcement of EPA regulations as “crucifying” oil companies?
Environmental Justice became official in 1994 via presidential fiat when then-President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 12898 to “focus federal attention on the environmental and human health effects of federal actions on minority and low-income populations with the goal of achieving environmental protection for all communities.” The Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) claims to work “to protect human health and the environment in communities overburdened by environmental pollution by integrating environmental justice into all EPA programs, policies and activities.”
Martha Guzman Aceves, who has worked for the governor in his office as Deputy Legislative Secretary, has upwards of 40 violations of the California Fair Political Practices Act. Guzman-Aceves has served as a public official in the Brown Administration “managing legislation and regulatory matters for the governor,” while her non-profit organization lobbied the legislature and governor’s office on various issues, including AB1081, federal immigration policy enforcement,” I reported in October 2013.
“California Deputy Legislative Secretary Martha Guzman-Aceves intentionally filed false documents with the Fair Political Practices Commission to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars, filed false tax returns, failed to report receipt of payment from a political committee, and omitted third-party relationships that directly conflict with her position and duties as Deputy Legislative Secretary in the Office of Governor Jerry Brown,” the Hews Media Group reported in 2014.
Brown’s other PUC appointee awaiting Senate confirmation, Clifford Rechtschaffen, has worked as a senior advisor also in Brown’s office on environmental and agricultural issues. Prior to being appointed by Brown, he was a special assistant attorney general for then-Attorney General Jerry Brown, where he helped “coordinate the work of the office’s attorneys on global warming, including special projects and liaison with outside groups,” according to his bio.
Rechtschaffen has also advised the election campaigns of Governor Gray Davis in 1998 and Attorney General Bill Lockyer in 1998 and 2002 on environmental issues, and is called “an informal consultant” to the California Attorney General’s Office Task Force on Environmental Justice, according to his bio. Rechtschaffen was also known as the top enforcer of California’s toxics initiative, Proposition 65.
California’s PUC “has control over energy, rail safety and carriers, telecommunications, and water rates and operating conditions as permitted by state law,” according to the PUC website.
Both of Brown’s newest appointees currently work inside of the Governor’s office. The current PUC President Michael Picker, was also Senior Advisor for Renewable Energy in the Governor’s office, 2009 – 2014. Each of the other PUC commissioners has been a Gov. appointee to some agency: Natural Resources, Dept. of Energy, Fair Political Practice Commission, etc…
What is interesting is Martha Guzman Aceves, one of the new appointees, has more than 40 FPPC violations, and one of the current PUC commissioners was the head of the FPPC 2003-2007.
Who is Martha Guzman Aceves?
Prior to working for the Governor, Guzman Aceves was a founding partner of Cultivo Consulting, which claims to engage in lobbying, political campaigning and community organizing in California. It’s a lobbying and outreach firm specializing in social, economic and environmental justice. Guzman Aceves also was listed on 2011 tax returns as president and CEO for Communities for the New California Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization which claims to be “committed to achieving environmental, economic, and socially just public policy for working class families in the rural areas of California.”
They are community organizers and part of ACORN.
While Guzman Aceves has a long history of lobbying, political campaigning and community organizing in California, the current abuses began a few years ago. In 2009, the national network of community-organizers, “ACORN,” the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known best for registering hundreds of thousands of low-income voters, was exposed encouraging the poor to sign up for welfare in order to overload the entire system – in addition to numerous other fraud charges. The ACORN strategy was to bring radical change to America “using a tangled mess of interlocking directorates and upward of 100 affiliated tax-exempt groups,” according to Townhall.com journalist Matthew Vadum.
After video footage was released to the media showing ACORN workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute, its largest affiliates in New York and California broke away and changed their names, which included the “charitable” organizations linked to several operated by or closely coordinating with Governor Brown’s Deputy Legislative Secretary, Martha Guzman Aceves.
The trail of ‘dark money” into Guzman Aceves’ Communities for a New California and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment is convoluted, but telling.
It began with ACORN, which merely changed its name in 2010 to “Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.” Then former ACORN group became “Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action,” at the same time Guzman’s Communities for a New California was created.
The Alliance of “Local Leaders for Education, Registration and Turnout,” changed its name to “California Calls Action Fund,” which then created “California Calls Coordinating Committee.”
The “California Calls Coordinating Committee” managed electoral and political activity through the “Educators and Working Families Committee,” “California Calls Action Fund Committee,” and ALLERT PAC, which was terminated in 2008.
“Communities for a New California” created another PAC in 2011 – the “Communities for a New California Fresno Committee 527,” and a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, the “Communities for a New California Education Fund,” according to Guidestar. Communities for a New California received $71,440 and $44,644 from California Calls Action Fund in October 2012, according to the Secretary of State.
“Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action” created two more groups — “Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Institute,” and “Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action PAC,” which received $15, 000 from Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action, and returned $200,000 in contributions from California Calls Action Fund Committee.
“Leading Latino and environmental justice advocates formed Communities for a New California in 2010,” the CNC website says.
Under CNC’s umbrella are the Communities for a New California Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) charity; the Communities for a New California Inc., a 501 (c)(4) charity; and the Communities for a New California Fresno-Tulare Independent Expenditure Committee.
Amy Schur, the original Executive Director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment since its founding in 2010, moved into the role of Campaign Director for the organization. Prior to helping to launch ACCE, Schur was Head Organizer of California ACORN and had worked as a community organizer on the South side of Chicago, in Detroit, and in cities across California.
Get it now?
Who Is Clifford Rechtschaffen, Brown’s other PUC appointee?
In October 2013, California Gov. Jerry Brown, together with the Governors of Oregon and Washington and the British Columbia Premier, signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, “to align climate change policies and promote clean energy.” The Pacific Coast Collaborative links with the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX), a compact between California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, formed in 2013 to promote “the type of new thinking necessary to solve the West Coast’s infrastructure crisis.” And the WCX is linked to the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative.
But Brown had help from Clifford Rechtschaffen.
“California isn’t waiting for the rest of the world before it takes action on climate change,” said Gov. Brown said in 2013. “Today, California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are all joining together to reduce greenhouse gases.”
Rechtschaffen helped Sam Rickets, a senior aid to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, develop an agreement, originated by disgraced former Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber, to organize a campaign to promote the green agenda, beginning with the California and Washington governors’ offices, a private environmentalist law firm, and the White House. This scheme was made possible with funding from “major environmental donors,” billionaires Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to E&E Legal attorney Chris Horner. Thanks to attorney Horner, the Kitzhaber scandal was exposed as a scheme involving multiple governors and high-level staff involved in shady green energy deals, with national entanglements. Attorney Chris Horner discovered ingrained collusion with top level staff in Gov. Brown’s office with Cliff Rechtschaffen and Brown aid Wade Crowfoot, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office, and Washington State Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office to “spread climate coordination and collaboration to a larger group of governors across the U.S.”
Who is Tom Steyer?
Billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer made his fortune investing in the energy sector, through his hedge fund company, the Farallon Capital Management fund, which Steyer managed until 2012. Farrallon invested in coal mines in Australia and Indonesia, as well as in tar-sands oil, which is strip mined, processed to extract the oil-rich bitumen, which is then refined into oil. It’s an interesting career change and “moral” about-face. “And then there’s the Brown family’s semi-secret financial ties to the military dictatorship of Indonesia, a book-length saga unto itself,” columnist Dan Walters slipped into a column in 2010. (Learn more about this scandal here)
Tom Steyer founded NextGen Climate, an organization immersed in green cronyism. NextGen is a 501(c)(4) organization, and the NextGen Climate Action Committee is a political action committee which fought the Keystone Pipeline and other oil and gas projects. Steyer said on the NextGen blog that while climate change had not always been on his radar, he came to believe he could no longer invest in fossil fuels – after becoming a billionaire. Steyer uses his coal and energy fortune to try and manipulate the California and national political processes.
The web of corruption is thick, and goes deeply into the Governor’s inner sanctum. Maybe, just maybe, the Senate will consider this before they automatically confirm Martha Guzman Aceves and Clifford Rechtschaffen to the Public Utilities Commission.
About the Author: Katy Grimes is an investigative journalist, Senior Correspondent with the Flash Report, and Senior Media Fellow with Energy and Environmental Institute. A longtime political analyst, she has written for The Sacramento Union, The Washington Examiner, Watchdog.org, The Pacific Research Institute’s CalWatchdog, The San Francisco Examiner, The Business Journal, E&E Legal, The Sacramento Bee, Legal Insurrection, Canada Free Press, and Laura Ingraham’s LifeZette, and can be heard regularly on many talk radio shows each week. This report originally appeared in Frontpage Mag and is republished here with permission from the author.