Oil Scandal: Whistleblower Ignites GOP Calls to Investigate Jerry Brown

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Republican leaders in California are stepping up calls for an investigation into Governor Jerry Brown’s potential misuse of state resources following the emergence of a whistleblower from within the state Department of Conservation.

Mapping specialist Jennie Catalano confirmed to the Associated Press that she recently lodged a whistleblower complaint against the governor. Though Catalano declined to comment further, a statement from the whistleblower and her lawyer last week detailed the complaint, alleging that Catalano was ordered to compile “a state map of the oil and gas potential, history and geology of California Gov. Jerry Brown’s family ranch,” according to the AP report.

Catalano’s attorney William Rehwald said, “I was asked to help her in part because she does feel that she’s being retaliated against because she’s a whistleblower.”

Revelations brought to light in a previous AP report show that Brown requested the report from new;y-appointed Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) chief Steve Bohlen. The Los Angeles Times reported, “Nine days after Brown appointed Steve Bohlen to lead the state oil and gas regulatory division, the governor called him with his research request.” It took state regulators just two days to produce an elaborate report.

California law bars any elected official from using state resources for personal gain.

Brown spokesperson Gareth Lacy has rebuffed the allegations, saying the work is the same available to any private citizen.

“Whether it’s a state worker or the governor, it’s never appropriate for state resources to be used for personal use,” said State Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield). “During this past legislative session, Democrats tried to push through a bill that would restrict gas use in California by 50 percent. The political leadership in California should stand united behind locally-produced oil, which creates good jobs, delivers revenue to local governments and prevents even more oil from being imported from outside the state.”

Former State Assembly Member Tim Donnelly told Breitbart News: “I think a full investigation is warranted not only into the allegations that Governor Brown used state resources for private gain but also whether or not there was an attempt to cover it up.”

The allegations surfaced during a separate lawsuit out of Kern County, California. Farmers in that country brought the lawsuit over allegations that “Brown’s administration and the oil industry intentionally circumvented federal law meant to protect groundwater from oilfield pollution,” according to the AP. Patricia Oliver, the attorney for the farmers, has alleged that Gov. Brown threatened Bohlen over sending him an email relating to his request for information about his family’s land.

That reporting further detailed that State Attorney General Kamala Harris’s office is contesting subpoenas issued to state oil and gas agency employees. Harris, a Democrat, is the frontrunner candidate for U.S. Senate in California. She is facing her own separate potential ethics investigation from the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) over allegations that she accepted gifts in excess of acceptable limits.

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Tom Del Beccaro told Breitbart News: “Harris should demonstrate to the state that she is a public servant and not a politician and open an investigation into this matter. Brown obviously thinks there are rules for him and separate rules for the rest of us. We have to give up fossil fuels and he can use taxpayer money to prospect for them on this own property.”

Former DOGGR senior oil and gas engineer Burton Ellison told the AP, “What they did was a misuse of government time and employee time and resources–that’s the No. 1 reason we would never do it.” According to Ellison, DOGGR records are available to the public, but “we would never assemble it.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana


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