Reminiscent of the tyrannical Roman Emperor Nero, California lawmakers jet-setted to Hawaii for a week of mai tais, snorkeling, and schmoozing with utility companies’ representatives – during the deadliest wildfires in state history.
Between happy hours and sunbathing, gas and electric company officials huddled with politicians to discuss how much responsibility they should bear for the dozens of dead and tens of thousands of homeless.
Even before the latest conflagration, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) alone faced billions in damages for negligence in exacerbating wildfires.
The Northern California utility could also find itself on the receiving end of murder or manslaughter charges for recklessness in fire-prone areas. (Fox News)
The utility companies are pushing for a new state law that would raise electricity prices to offset costs incurred from wildfires, according to The New York Times.
The annual event, hosted by the nonprofit Independent Voter Project, was held in Maui in November. PG&E executives did not attend the conference because of the wildfires, but representatives from San Diego Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison did, KABC-TV reported.
Those in attendance at the Wailea conference included California Assembly members Frank Bigelow, Bill Brough, Ian Calderon, Jim Cooper, Tom Daly, Heath Flora, Jim Frazier, Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Freddie Rodriguez and Blanca Rubio. State Sens. Ben Hueso and Cathleen Galgiani also attended, nonprofit Consumer Watchdog reports.
The “Wailea 12”
????Rcvd more than $600K from the utilities in campaign contributions
????Are on key committees deciding the fate of legislation determining who pays for #wildfires, utilities(whose equipment was at fault), ins. cos., ratepayers or taxpayers.https://t.co/AKPAxV9z2E pic.twitter.com/1chPo2I54w
— Consumer Watchdog (@ConsumerWD) January 8, 2019
The lawmakers all previously voted for legislation that would help utility companies fined for wildfires and have received more than $630,000 in campaign contributions from utilities, according to Consumer Watchdog.
Dan Howle, chair of the Independent Voter Project, told The New York Times that lobbying is prohibited at the conference.
A defiant Howle continued, “What would be wrong with elected officials and businesses discussing issues? If the public wants to go, the public can pay a fee.”
California’s Camp Fire killed 86 people and razed 19,000 structures to the ground in Butte County. Close to Los Angeles, the Hill and Woolsey fires claimed three victims and destroyed over 1,600 structures.