Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Cooley doesn't plan to give back $13,000 received during prosecution of oil company

October 23, 2010 |  6:34 pm

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley on Saturday said he has no plans to return $13,000 in contributions to his attorney general's campaign from an oil company received while his office was prosecuting the firm for violating state environmental laws.

Cooley said his campaign staff is reviewing the matter, however.  He emphasized that the  donations from Warren E&P Inc., which operates oil wells near the Port of Los Angeles, had no influence on how his office handled the pending case.

Reports filed by Warren's parent company with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that county prosecutors have agreed to a nearly identical settlement to the one discussed by the Los Angeles city attorney's office under Democrat Rocky Delgadillo.

The district attorney's office inherited the case from the city attorney's office, which filed criminal charges against Warren in January 2008. The case was handed over to the district attorney's office after the firm's defense lawyer, Carmen Trutanich, was elected city attorney last year, taking over for Delgadillo.

Cooley said returning the donations would throw Warren E&P Inc. “under the bus” and imply that the company was trying to influence prosecutors, which he said would be unfair to both the company and his agency.

The California League of Conservation Voters, an environmental organization that has endorsed Cooley’s Democratic opponent in the election, San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris, last week called on Cooley to return the donations.

The contributions were brought to The Times' attention by Harris’ campaign aides. The Times independently reviewed Cooley's campaign filings and reviewed additional records and conducted interviews.


-- Phil Willon and Jack Leonard