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Follow the Money: Parsons Corporation promotes Delta Tunnels behind the scenes
by Dan Bacher
Friday May 25th, 2018 6:21 PM
A review of federal election campaign contributions by Restore the Delta reveals that the Parsons Corporation, an international infrastructure contractor, has contributed to campaign coffers of Riverside Republican House member Ken Calvert and House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican from Bakersfield.
"Follow the money,” a catchphrase popularized by the 1976 drama-documentary motion picture All The President's Men that suggests a money trail or corruption scheme within high office, definitely applies to the current rush by the state and federal governments to construct Governor Jerry Brown’s environmentally destructive Delta Tunnels even though the project makes no scientific, economic or financial sense.

A review of federal election campaign contributions by Restore the Delta reveals that the Parsons Corporation, an international infrastructure contractor with 13 offices, including its headquarters, in California and 106 worldwide, has contributed to campaign coffers not only of Riverside Republican House member Ken Calvert but House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican of Bakersfield.

Restore the Delta (RTD) reported last week that Parsons contributed $10,000 to Calvert in 2018, as covered in the Daily Kos:

Parsons also gave $10,000 to House majority leader McCarthy in the 2018 cycle, according to

“Parsons Corporation Vice President Steve Hirai publicly supported the California WaterFix project in comments to the May 9 joint oversight hearing of three Assembly committees while plugging its tunnels engineering and construction experience (see 3:02:01), and partners with Tutor Perini and Zachry construction firms for the California High-Speed Rail environmental impact report,” according to Restore the Delta. “Parsons contacts were also introduced to small business people at a January 2018 Department of Water Resources workshop where Parsons was included as a prime contractor for California WaterFix.”

“House majority leader McCarthy will be a key congressional figure in whether the California WaterFix exemption rider (Section 437 of the House Interior Appropriation bill released recently) passes Congress and is signed by President Donald Trump sometime this summer. If passed, the rider would end all due process recourses relating to the Tunnels project for the public and affected private individuals, a wholesale denial of civil and due process rights for thousands of people in California,” the group stated.

"Since our inception, Restore the Delta has followed the rule of law, whether engaging constructively with available due processes such as hearings on the Tunnels before the State Water Board and Delta Stewardship Council, or peaceably assembling for rallies on public grounds such as the State Capitol and other venues,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

"It is deeply disappointing that neither California Governor Jerry Brown, State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, nor House whip McCarthy have spoken out against the affront to civil rights and due process that Section 437 of the House Interior Appropriations bill represents. However, we are grateful that Senator Feinstein has expressed her opposition to the rider as reported by the Los Angeles Times. We hope to see Senator Harris take a position against the rider in the near future," said Barrigan-Parrilla.

Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), co-chair of the California Delta Legislative Caucus, today asked California’s two U.S. senators to oppose a rider inserted into a congressional bill that would exempt the proposed Delta twin tunnels project – dubbed WaterFix – from legal challenges under state or federal law. Sixteen additional lawmakers in the State Legislature also signed the letter that went out today.

“This rider seeks to infringe on the separate and equal powers of the judicial branch protected by the Constitution, and the powers reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment,” Frazier said in the letter to Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. “This dangerous precedent poses a direct threat to our Constitution by suggesting that the CA WaterFix project would no longer be subject to judicial review under any federal or state law. We are in strong opposition and appreciate any efforts that you may be able to make to block this rider and any subsequent effort.”

Frazier represents The 11th Assembly District, which includes more of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta than any other Assembly district. Frazier has been at the forefront of the opposition to the proposed tunnels since taking office in the Assembly in 2012.

Frazier believes the project as proposed "threatens to create an ecological disaster in the Delta, devastate the region’s economy and spoil the way of life for its half million residents."

The Delta Tunnels project is opposed by a broad coalition of Southern California and Santa Clara Valley Water District stakeholders, family farmers, Tribes, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Delta residents, environmental justice advocates, conservationists, water districts, many elected officials and many Northern California and Delta region cities and counties.

If the tunnels are built, project opponents say San Francisco Bay-Delta and West Coast fisheries will be decimated while not one drop of new water will be created. The project will not only hasten the extinction of Sacramento River winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and long fin smelt, green sturgeon and other fisheries, but will imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers.