SD09 candidate Sandre Swanson and current office
holder state Sen. Loni Hancock.

An independent expenditure committee, whose largest donors include oil and tobacco companies, has spent more than $138,000 in the last week in support of Sandre Swanson’s bid for the 9th state Senate district, representing Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda. However, the group’s generosity may not exactly aid Swanson’s candidacy in one of the most progressive state Senate districts in California.

The committee calling itself, “Alliance for California’s Tomorrow, A California Business Coalition,” is not affiliated with Swanson’s campaign, but it conducted polling and research in recent weeks, in addition to distributing two mailers in support of his campaign for the open East Bay seat, including a $28,000 expenditure on Tuesday.

Swanson is in a four-person race with fellow Democrats Nancy Skinner, Katherine Welch, and Republican Rich Kinney in the June 7 primary.

Pat Dennis, a political consultant for the Swanson campaign, said he’s unsure why the committee is backing Swanson, a longtime East Bay progressive. “We have no idea about the decision-making process. We haven’t asked for their endorsement, and we can’t talk or coordinate with IEs on any level,” he said.

Dennis, however, noted that the committee isn’t just funded by Big Oil and Big Tobacco. “They take money from all kinds of people,” he said, including the California Nurses Association, a labor union that has endorsed Swanson’s candidacy. “They are diametrically opposite interests from oil companies,” he added.

According to finance records, Alliance for California’s Tomorrow has spent more than $273,000 this year. The oil company Phillips 66 is the largest single donor to the committee in the 2015-16 election cycle, making a $100,000 contribution on April 8. Other recent contributors include PG&E ($60,000); California Nurses Association PAC ($50,000); and the California New Car Dealer PAC ($25,000). The committee’s also received $30,000 from a group called the California Independent Leadership Alliance. According to public records, that group’s single largest contributor is tobacco giant Phillip Morris. [READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT OAKLAND MAGAZINE]