This former cop is bought out by big business — and our state is paying for it
In what has become almost a yearly tradition, the California State Assembly failed to pass scores of urgent bills this year, primarily because of opposition from big business and law enforcement.
As Knock has previously reported, the state’s weak campaign finance laws allow corporations and police groups to donate large amounts of money directly to candidates, incentivizing politicians to vote in a way that pleases these donors.
And yet, even in a State Assembly where so many legislators have raked in massive amounts of corporate and police cash, Assemblymember Mike Gipson manages to distinguish himself. Gipson is a painful example of the power of special interests on our state politicians.
Gipson represents State Assembly District 64, which covers the Los Angeles County neighborhoods of Carson, Watts, Compton, Rancho Dominguez, Wilmington, Broadway-Manchester, and parts of Long Beach. He was first elected to this seat in 2014, and prior to that served nearly a decade as a Carson City Councilmember. He is running for reelection on November 3, against teacher Fatima Iqbal-Zubair.
Gipson has received the 2nd most gifts out of all of the 120 members of the two houses of the California State Legislature, a total of $41,400 in travel, meals, and other gifts. This includes an 11-day $12,138 trip to the Netherlands and a two-week $11,330 trip to Chile, both of which were financed by a nonprofit group funded by the oil and electric utility industries.
He has raised $174,730 from big oil & fossil fuel companies, $373,907 from other large corporations, and $148,000 police & police-related associations. These totals include a staggering $30,100.00 from Chevron, $22,900 from Phillips 66, and $19,000 from Valero Energy.
Gipson’s receipt of these corporate and fossil fuel donations raises serious questions about whose interests he is serving in the State Legislature. While our US Supreme Court deems these contributions legal for the time being, Gipson’s voting record demonstrates that he puts special interests above the community he is supposed to serve.
On the environment, Gipson voted ‘no’ on California’s landmark environmental bill SB100, which requires the state switch to 100% renewable and zero-carbon energy by 2045, the first such policy anywhere in the United States. He also voted ‘no’ on Assembly Bill 1328, a bill that addresses the ugly environmental impact of oil wells abandoned by oil & gas companies. Gipson took these votes despite representing a district that disproportionately suffers from pollution and negative health effects of the large oil & gas industry in the district.
Mike Gipson has a pattern of refusing to vote on key environmental legislation. He withheld votes on legislation mandating the closure of Aliso Canyon, protecting groundwater around oil projects, increasing penalties for oil spills, and requiring state agencies to identify ways to reduce air pollution.
Gipson also withheld a key vote on AB1080 — a groundbreaking policy to reduce waste from single-use plastics. (The bill has come just short of passage for two years — the oil and gas industry increasingly rely on plastic as a source of profits and lobbied hard to defeat it.)
And it is not just environmental laws, Gipson has sided with corporate interests and withheld his vote on a series of crucial consumer and worker protection bills, including protecting his constituents from predatory lenders by capping interest rates, banning forced arbitration on employee & consumer contracts (AB2667 and AB3080), and protecting seasonal workers’ savings from debt collectors. Gipson even had the gall to skip voting on a bill that would require employers to pay increased wages on Thanksgiving — surely pleasing McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, CVS, and Walgreens, top Gipson donors.
Gipson’s record on criminal justice reform also reflects the interests of his campaign donors, specifically police-related associations. He withheld and delayed support for SB731, a priority bill for Black Lives Matter-LA that would have prevented cops who commit serious misconduct from being re-hired in a different California police department — an all-to-frequent occurrence.
In fact, before his career in politics, Gipson was a police officer with the Maywood Police Department, a department where almost a third of the cops had been forced out of previous police jobs or had brushes with the law. (This Department was ultimately shut down completely because of its record of police violence, false arrests, and rogue cops.) Gipson has also withheld his vote on other criminal justice reforms, including bills allowing more discretion in setting bail amounts, permitting minors to consult lawyers during all interrogations, and ensuring due process before law enforcement seizes personal property.
Residents of Assembly District 64 deserve a champion who will represent their interests, not the interests of big corporations and police donors. KNOCK.LA strongly recommends voters seize back their district from the special interests and elect Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, a people-powered candidate who is rejecting all fossil fuel, corporate, and law enforcement donations.
Want to learn more about your 2020 election ballot? Check out KNOCK.LA’s Voter Guide, which breaks down propositions and candidate platforms for over 120 races in and around LA County.
KNOCK.LA is a project paid for by Ground Game LA. This article was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.
Fatima Iqbal-Zubair is one of several candidates endorsed by Ground Game LA.