The Los Angeles Times has a thought-provoking article today about whether or not candidate for governor and former eBay executive Meg Whitman’s investments in “firms that sought to profit from the country’s credit crisis, in venture capital and hedge funds open only to the wealthy, and in oil, gas, healthcare and other concerns seeking to influence state policy” represent a powerful conflict of interest.

From the LA Times:

Whitman’s holdings include multimillion-dollar stakes in oil, gas, real estate, information technology and healthcare — all industries with perennial business before the state. She also has placed millions in the Carlyle/Riverstone Global Energy and Power Fund and the firm Natural Gas Partners, which invests in the oil exploration and production industry.

Proposals to expand offshore drilling and place new levies on energy firms are being debated in the Capitol.

This issue is of course, not unprecedented — given the expense of running for statewide office, particularly for governor, wealthy individuals have just a teeny, tiny advantage in their quest for higher office and frequently commit to divesting or moving holdings into a blind trust when and if they are successful in their campaigns.

But the enormity of Whitman’s wealth and the positions she is taking during the lead-up to the June 8 primary election that may favor (for instance) oil companies, make this question extraordinarily important to ask.

Unfortunately, the news media haven’t had much of a chance to ask Whitman about, well, anything because reporters keep getting shut out by the candidate and her staff — even, incredibly, at press events called by Whitman herself.

Fortunately, you have a chance right now to ask this and other critical questions of Whitman and her Republican rival for the party nomination, Steve Poizner, in advance of their upcoming March 15 debate. We hope you’ll send lots of questions to both candidates asking where the candidates stand on a host of important environmental issues: clean air and water policy, climate change (including the potential suspension of California’s landmark climate law AB 32), exemptions to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) being demanded by current governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, protecting California’s wildlife and wild open spaces, and more.

This debate is a rare opportunity to make the candidates realize how important the environment is to California voters. Help “Build a Greener Governor” by sending your questions to the debate moderator at the following email address: [email protected].

Thank you for asking the candidates some tough questions, and we’ll keep you posted on what comes out of the March 15 debate.

Posted on March 12, 2010


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