Why Did Gil Cedillo Not Vote for Greenhouse Gas Law in 2006? Campaigns Focus After Sunday’s CD 1 Debate.


The Senator begins his response to a question on his AB 32 vote at the 1:37 mark.

In 2006, California passed landmark environmental legislation, AB 32, which set the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal into law. Then Senator Gil Cedillo did not vote one way or another on the legislation, which needed a vote of the majority of the present Senators to pass. While his opponents in next month’s primary election for Los Angeles City Council have contended that the lack of a “yes” vote is a sign of Cedillo’s ties to Chevron Gasoline, which opposed the law, Cedillo tells a different story.

More information on AB 32, and its importance in state and national legislative history, can be found here.

At Sunday’s CD 1 Candidates Forum, Cedillo told a moving story of how he was home with his ailing wife when the vote was cast. However, a friend of his, Republican Senator Roy Ashburn, volunteered to vote for AB 32 in his absence because of their close relationship so that Cedillo didn’t have to choose between a universally important vote and his wife.

It’s a moving story.

It’s also not true.

“I mis-spoke,” Cedillo said on a call with Streetsblog earlier today. “It was AB 1493 that I was home for, and it was Senator Vargas, a moderate Democrat, who voted yes.”

Here’s the story. AB 1493 and AB 32 have a lot in common. They were both controversial at the time. They both dealt with vehicle emissions. They were both authored by Senator Fran Paley, who endorses Cedillo’s campaign. There are some major differences, AB 1493 was passed in 2002 and AB 32 was passed in 2006. That’s an important difference, as Cedillo’s wife passed away in 2002, not 2006.

Of course this doesn’t answer the question of why Cedillo didn’t vote for AB 32. The Senator explains he was in the office of Assembly Speaker Fabio Nunez working on modifications to the California Dream Act which was due for a vote the next day. The Dream Act, which would have increased the rights of undocumented immigrants was passed by both houses in 2006, but vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Cedillo also points out that AB 32 was called “without reference to file,” meaning it was not on the Senate’s schedule for the day.

A press release from Jose Gardea’s campaign argues that Cedillo was doing the bidding of Chevron. Last week, it was revealed that Chevron is backing an “independent committee” that is backing Cedillo. In addition, the oil company donated $11,550 to Cedillo while he worked in Sacramento. That amounts to less than $1,000 a year for the 15 year state representative.  But Gardea also notes that pro-Cedillo lawn signs in the district state that Chevron is backing an independent expenditure committee with $80,000.

The Gardea campaign has more than just insinuation to back their arguments. The campaign was the first to note that the story Cedillo told on Sunday afternoon about his reasons for not supporting AB 32 didn’t hold up to inspection. Looking deeper at the Senate Daily Journal from the date of the AB 32 vote, shows that Cedillo was present shortly after the AB 32 vote to move a motion pertaining to the health care industry.

The abstention, for whatever reason, of the AB 32 vote was just one of several votes putting Cedillo against the environmental community in 2006. Over his fifteen year career, Cedillo had a 94% vote approval rating from the California League of Conservation Voters Environmental Score Card. In 2006, the score was 71%, 15 points lower than his next “worst” year.

“That may be the way Gil Cedillo operated in Sacramento,” said Jose Gardea, the local candidate for the 1st Council District. “But we don’t sell out our health, safety and the environment to the oil companies here,” Gardea concluded.

But Cedillo claims that votes taken in 2006 are water under the bridge. Pavley supports his campaign, as does Congresman Jared Huffman, a former attorney with the NRDC. When simply asked whether he supports the goals and tactics of AB 32, Cedillo answered briefly. “I support AB 32…I have always supported AB 32.”

But those endorsements aren’t enough to put Gardea at ease. Speaking for the Gardea campaign, Steve Barkan writes.

Gil Cedillo still hasn’t explained his relationship with Chevron and why they are spending so much to get him elected. Gil Cedillo is still not telling the truth about why he did not vote for AB 32, the most important anti-pollution legislation in decades. Gil Cedillo claims he was in the Speaker’s office and didn’t know that the vote was coming up — and then he claims he knew it would pass anyway. Before making up these two excuses, Cedillo claimed he was in Los Angeles.

And even though he claimed he was working on something else in the Speaker’s office, he voted on another bill immediately before hand and presented a bill on the Senate Floor shortly after the vote on AB 32.

Gil Cedillo just can’t get his story straight.