NPR toes the Sean Hannity line on Valley water
"For the first time in the history — I've been a farmworker the majority of my life, and I've never seen the coalitions that have been formed — farmers and the farmworkers have united," Lopez says. "This is an issue that's going to affect the world."
Funny. We saw the Latino Water Coalition rise under the wings of comedian Paul Rodriguez in 2010 during the massive "Cry Wolf" phony drought campaign engineered by global PR firm Burson-Marsteller, then led by Mark Penn.(1) We didn't hold it against any farmworkers for collecting a day's wages carrying signs for the campaign. That goes double for this year, which is a real drought. We found it peculiar that NPR should have so perfectly toed the line of Fox (News?) star, Sean Hannity. (2)
If there is a history of major donors to NPR it isn't available on the Internet. However we did find that two of Stewert and Lynda Resnick's companies, Fiji Water Co. and POM Wonderful, contributed a total of between $200,000 and $498,000 in 2008. The Resnick's largest enterprise in the San Joaquin Valley is Paramount Farms, the largest growers and packers of almonds and citrus in the land. The Resnicks have donated nearly half a million dollars to political candidates since 2011 (3)
Meanwhile, curiously, on the same day as the NPR story, the McClatchy California editorial board decides to bash an old lady in the US Senate for helping out a family-farming couple who are personal friends with their water problem.
It's a crying shame.
Unlikely Partnerships Spring From California Water Crisis…Kirk Siegler
At a recent rally in Fresno County, Calif., farmers in plaid shirts stood side by side with migrant farmworkers in ball caps, holding signs that read "sin agua, no futuro" and "no water, no food." Fresno is the top agriculture-producing county in the U.S., with more than $6 billion in annual sales.
Protesters argued that farms could go out of business without more water, and there would be mass layoffs. That rhetoric may be familiar, but the two groups' alliance is decidedly unusual.
"I'm really tickled to death to see the farmworkers working with the farmers. We've never seen that before," says Victor Lopez, the former longtime mayor of a nearby farm town called Orange Cove.
Lopez co-founded a group called the Latino Water Coalition, which organized the rally. In the '60s, Lopez marched with Cesar Chavez in the fight against growers for better conditions for farmworkers. For him, those old wounds have healed. He says the current water crisis is leading people across the political spectrum to mobilize. They're doing all they can to pressure, lobby and plead with the federal government to bring relief — because Mother Nature isn't.
"For the first time in the history — I've been a farmworker the majority of my life, and I've never seen the coalitions that have been formed — farmers and the farmworkers have united," Lopez says. "This is an issue that's going to affect the world."
A pair of bills pending in Congress would ease environmental restrictions in the vast Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. That could send some excess water south into a federal canal system. Some recent rains have also started to help fill reservoirs again, but so far federal officials have signaled they want to store that extra water for next year.
"If we've got the choice of either dying this year or dying next year, we'd prefer dying next year," says Mario Santoyo with a laugh.
It's the message he gave to White House officials when he visited Washington last week. Santoyo is the assistant general manager of a large water agency in Fresno that secures irrigation for 15,000 farmers. His is just one of several delegations of water officials and elected leaders racking up frequent-flier miles between the Central Valley and the Beltway right now. An analysis by member station KPCC and the Center for Responsive Politics found that Westlands Water District, one of the largest water agencies here, has spent $600,000 on lobbying.
Santoyo's group is planning another trip for next week.
"We don't have months and months and months and months to think about this," he says. "We only have a few more months before farmers either survive or they don't."
Santoyo says the focus now is on a group of Senate Republicans who have yet to sign on to a bill by Democrat Dianne Feinstein. Her measure is an example of another unlikely political alliance forming amid the drought. By siding with House Republicans who want to ease environmental restrictions, Feinstein has alienated some of her most staunch supporters: environmentalists.
Even In A Desert, Drought Spells Trouble For Ranchers
"We've created in California an unsustainable water system where those who have political power and money really can put pressure on the government to deliver the water that they feel that they are entitled to," says Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of the group Restore the Delta.
Feinstein recently removed a provision in her bill that would have sent millions of dollars in federal aid to nonprofits that help farmworkers and others affected by job losses. It was seen as a move to make the bill more palatable to Republicans. It could also be a first test of how deep these political alliances really are, and if they could ever extend beyond the water crisis.
Editorial: Dianne Feinstein’s water bill is an overreach
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s drought bill, introduced in February, was an improvement over the water grab bill that passed in the House.
A big plus in her original bill was $300 million for conservation and efficiency measures, aid to low-income farmworkers harmed by the drought, technological tools to help farmers get through this dry year and emergency projects to address drinking-water quality problems.
That $300 million, however, has been stripped out in order to get Republican support for Feinstein’s bill.
What remains in the revised version are two troubling provisions that The Bee’s editorial board urged her to amend in February.
The effect of these two provisions would be to allow more water flow south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to benefit the Westlands Water District in Fresno and Kings counties and Paramount Farms in the southern San Joaquin Valley, owned by billionaires Lynda and Stewart Resnick of Los Angeles.
From 2011 to 2013, Westlands spent $600,000 on lobbying in Washington, D.C., and the Resnicks donated nearly $321,000 to federal candidates, political action and party committees, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and Southern California Public Radio reported last week.
The two provisions would lead to federal micromanagement of pump operations in the Delta, rather than letting experts in the water and fish agencies make real-time decisions balancing all state interests.
Laws already allow for flexibility in dry years. Agencies have drastically reduced flows through the Delta and into San Francisco Bay to increase water exports south of the Delta. The latest increased water diversion was announced by state and federal officials on April 1.
Feinstein could fix the flawed provisions easily enough.
One provision would lock in a specific inflow-export ratio to allow more water transfers to contractors south of the Delta from April 1 through May 31, regardless of water availability. This, of course, is the time that salmon and steelhead are migrating to the ocean. Feinstein should fix this provision by allowing agency experts to change the ratio depending on real-time water availability.
The other provision talks about complying with endangered species law for some fish, but not for salmon and steelhead, which are on their way to extinction. Feinstein has said her goal is to protect fisheries. She should make that clear in the legislation. People whose livelihoods depend on salmon fisheries have been hurt by drought as much as Westside growers.
In the past, Feinstein has said it is important to avoid seeking “gains for certain water users at the expense of others” or abandoning “fundamental state and federal environmental laws.” To make actions match words, she should fix the two provisions.
Otherwise, it just looks like she’s going to bat for Westlands and the Resnicks, which doesn’t bode well for the larger Bay-Delta process seeking to balance statewide water supply reliability with protection of a healthy Delta ecosystem.
Hillary Insiders Say They Won't Work for Her If She Hires This Man
"I would do anything for Hillary. Except work with Mark Penn."
By David Corn
In recent weeks, I've talked to several Washington politicos close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and when I've asked if they will be joining Hillary's presidential machine, should she run, I've received a variant of this (understandably) not-for-citation reply: If Mark Penn is involved, no f-ing way.
Penn is famous—or infamous—for being the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign of inevitability that turned into a colossal failure. That effort was marked by hubris, lousy messaging, poor strategic planning, and legendary internal tensions—including back-biting, leaks, and fierce inside politics—that many within the politerati blamed, fairly or not, on Penn. In the book Game Change, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin described the campaign as "a simmering cauldron of long-held animosities—most of them directed at Penn." It was personal: "[T]he rest of Hillaryland detested Penn personally. They thought him arrogant and amoral, a detrimental force whose perniciousness was amplified by his inexplicably tight bond with the Clintons."
That tight bond had been forged years earlier. After President Clinton was clobbered in the 1994 midterm elections and the Democrats lost control of the House, he recruited Penn, a consultant and pollster, to help him triangulate against his own party and move toward the center. Penn, a proponent of the notion that Dems should not embrace populism, went on to become a close adviser during Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign—for which he developed sophisticated polling and data-collection techniques—and Hillary's successful 2000 Senate race. And politics was not his only pursuit: Penn earned millions as a consultant and strategist for numerous corporate clients. These days, he's executive vice president for strategy at Microsoft. At the tech giant, he oversaw a negative crusade against Google that drew gripes from others within the firm and the tech industry.
There's no telling if Penn will again play an über-role in another Hillary campaign. Last year, the Washington Post reported it was unlikely that Penn—whom many Clintonites faulted for the 2008 loss—would again be in the inner circle. Penn, though, reportedly did play a modest role in helping Bill Clinton craft his gangbuster speech at the 2012 Democratic convention—a sign that he had not been excommunicated from the inner circle. And as one enthusiastically pro-Hillary Democratic strategist says, "A lot of people waiting to join the campaign are first waiting to see what happens in the Mark Penn primary. Including me." That is, will Penn be involved in the campaign and, if not, who will be running it?
"A lot of people waiting to join the campaign are first waiting to see what happens in the Mark Penn primary. Including me," says one Democratic strategist.
"There are a ton of people who say they won't get involved if Mark is around," another Democratic operative says. "And there are other people who don't want to get involved anyway because the 2008 campaign was so unpleasant. There were so many centers of gravity. People were constantly playing inside politics to have influence." Hillary Clinton's Penn problem extends beyond Penn. The campaign that Penn came to symbolize was, as this strategist recalls, "full of people from the first Clinton administration who were watching out for their own interests. This led to a leakier environment and a more difficult workplace. It was a pretty miserable place."
A spokesman for Hillary Clinton says, "There is no candidate, so there is no campaign to discuss." A spokeswoman for Microsoft did not respond to a request for a comment from Penn.
What many Democratic ops are waiting for—other than the signal that Hillary Clinton will definitely pursue the presidency—is a clear indication of who will run her show (as either the campaign manger, chief strategist, or both), should she throw her heels into the ring. "Whoever she picks will send a signal about the type of her campaign," a Democratic strategist notes. Will that person be an insider or outsider, part of the new class of political operatives or the old class, a man or a woman?
This choice could also say a lot about Hillary Clinton. What did she learn from 2008? Does she now have the ability to pull together and lead a cohesive team that can function smoothly as it oversees an operation that will conceivably spend hundreds of millions of dollars? And how will she handle what one Democratic strategist calls the "Bill problem and opportunity"? Whoever runs a Hillary campaign is going to have to contend with the former president, one of the top political forces of recent decades (even if he did seem to lose his touch in 2008). "Bill Clinton will be on the phone all day, and if anything is not going well, he'll be second-guessing it or saying someone should have called me on this," a Democratic consultant notes. He could be a forceful, on-the-mark, disciplined advocate for his wife or wind up the campaign's Secretary of I-Told-You-So. Or both.
One of the first necessary steps of a successful presidential candidate is to assemble an infrastructure that can serve the candidate and develop an effective strategy. Hillary Clinton muffed that seven years ago, and resentments still linger, with Penn symbolizing that particular failure. So some members of Hillaryland are holding their breath, looking to see what happens with Mark Penn. Although he appears to be comfortably ensconced at Microsoft, they fear he may either return to Hillary's side or, perhaps worst, play an informal but close-in role, casting a dark shadow over the enterprise.
"I would do anything for Hillary," one Democratic operative says. "I love her. I think she'd be a great president. Anything. Except work with Mark Penn."
Sean Hannity Spreads Dangerous Misinformation about California WAter
Burson-Marsteller PR Firm Hosts 'Astroturf' Rally in San Joaquin Valley
By: Dan Bacher
Sept. 19, 2009 - Neoconservative talk show host Sean Hannity aired live from the west side of the San Joaquin Valley Thursday night to garner national attention for California's "water crisis," falsely portraying the battle by a broad coalition of fishermen, conservationists, California Indian Tribes, Delta farmers and environmental justice activists to restore the Delta and Central Valley salmon as a conflict of "fish versus jobs."
The Burson-Marsteller PR Firm hosted an ‘Astroturf' rally, funded by corporate agribusiness, advocating anti-environmental measures that will destroy the Pacific ecosystem and the economy of the California coast and Sacramento Valley that depend on the income generated by recreational and commercial salmon and other fisheries.
"It's becoming a Dust Bowl out here," Hannity claimed as he broadcasted from a farm in Huron, California during the "The Valley Hope Forgot" show. "This is the death panel for farming."
"Mr. President, turn the water on now," he appealed to President Obama.
His guests included comedian Paul Rodriguez, chairman of the California Latino Water Coalition, an agribusiness front organization; former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry and Representatives George Radanovich (R-Mariposa), Devin Nunes (R-Visalia), and Jim Costa (D-Fresno). While the crowd roundly applauded Nunes, many booed Costa when he spoke.
"Nowhere in the world has a democracy ever starved people its water," stated Nunes, known for his over-the-top rhetoric. "Zimbabwe has done this."
Governor Arnold Scharzenegger sided with agribusiness and Hannity during his interview on the show, blaming structural unemployment in the Valley on the federal biological opinion protecting Delta smelt and chinook salmon.
"We have a terrible crisis on our hands," said Scharzenegger. "And this is a crisis, not because of some disaster. It's a crisis self-inflicted. This is something that the federal government is doing to us. We have done, like you said, everything in the book to convince them otherwise and to turn on the water. So, we are being handicapped here by federal judges, and this is the terrible thing about iT."
Schwarzenegger used his interview as an opportunity to campaign for new water "infrastructure" - a peripheral canal and more dams that fishing and most environmental groups are opposing. "In the meantime, I think it's also important for you to note that we're moving ahead here in Sacramento, because we have been negotiating for years to create a water infrastructure, to bring our water infrastructure up to date, because we have now 38 million people in California," said Schwarzenegger. "And the last infrastructure that you see now that was done was done when we had around 18 million people."
In the broadcast, hundreds of farmworkers appeared in the background, backed up for miles, holding signs and screaming chants in support of Hannity. However, these are the same workers with the same signs that Valley labor contractors and corporate agribusiness have hired for a series of astroturfing rallies throughout the state over the past several month.
In April, the same organization sponsoring Hannity's visit held a "March for Water" that Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers Union founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, denounced for not representing the interests of farmworkers, but only the growers. The New York Times on April 17 reported that "many of the protesters were paid by their employers to march in lieu of harvesting crops."
"In reality, this is not a farm worker march,'' Rodriguez told the Times. ''This is a farmer march orchestrated and financed by growers.''
No farmworker or environmental justice organizations supported the "march" - or the rally that Hannity broadcast from Thursday.
Fishermen, conservationists and environmental justice advocates were outraged by Hannity's cynical use of farmworkers to put a "human face" on the corporate agribusiness interests that are making hundreds of millions of dollars off rampant water speculation.
"Instead of illustrating how outrageous water speculation and irresponsible agricultural practices are adding to a natural drought, Hannity fueled partisan politics and blamed President Obama for refusing to lift a series of federal mandates and environmental rulings that order a small amount of water to be used to restore regional fisheries and protect the balance of the entire Northern California coastal ecosystem," according to a statement from fishing and environmental organizations. "State water experts counted a total of 10 incorrect statements in Hannity's broadcasT.
In June 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in its biological opinion ordered a reduction of 5-7% of water exported from the California Delta pumps (330,000 acre-feet) to prevent Sacramento and San Joaquin River chinook salmon from becoming extincT.
"In addition to the salmon, the NMFS order will help boost populations of other threatened species - including sole, crab, herring, smelt, steelhead, sturgeon, striped bass, and the southern resident population of killer whales (orcas)," the groups noted. "Regional commercial and sport fisheries have collapsed over the past 2 years and an independent economic research firm estimates that recovery of the salmon fishery alone would create $5.7 billion in new economic activity for the state, and the creation of 94,000 new jobs."
The closure of recreational and commercial salmon fishing off the California and Oregon coast in 2008 and 2009 has led to widespread economic devastation in coastal communities, spurring Representative Mike Thompson and Congress to pass legislation last year that provided $170 million disaster relief money for salmon fishing and related businesses. Dick Pool of Water for Fish emphasized that the shutdown has led to the loss of 23,000 jobs and $1.4 million to the state's economy annually, according to economic data compiled by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).
"The water needed to save Pacific fisheries is a drop in the bucket compared to what is being lost with irresponsible irrigation techniques and business practices," said Mike Hudson, President of the Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishermen's Association. "Local fisheries have completely collapsed and thousands of our lives have been destroyed, but Hannity ignores our families to promote his politics."
True to his subservience to agribusiness, Hannity made no mention of a recent Pacific Institute report showing how simple, and cost-effective irrigation techniques could be adopted by Valley farmers to save nearly 6 million acre-feet of water per year - over 18 times the amount re-routed by the NMFS order.
"Nor did he address the growing practice of water speculation, in which rural land owners purchase subsidized water from the federal government and sell it for profit on the open marke," said Hudson. "Sandridge Partners, a Sunnyvale real estate company, recently sold 14,000 acre-feet of water out of the valley for $77 million. Finally, Hannity failed to explain why the Westlands Water District, from which he broadcast from, is sitting on nearly 275,000 acre-feet of water that it is not distributing."
The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance District (CSPA) in August contended that the district has been "squirreling away"the 275,000 acre feet of surplus water it can't use. Bill Jennings, executive director of CSPA, discovered a Westlands' information bulletin dated July 23, 2009 revealing that the giant irrigation district has been "hiding considerable carryover storage from last year and is adding even more this year." CSPA is calling for an investigation into Westlands' surplus water and possible surplus water hidden away by other water districts.
Hannity also claimed that the price of processed tomato goods and almonds is going to skyrocket across the nation because of the "water crisis."
However, salmon advocates noted that this year is predicted to be a record-breaking harvest of processing tomatoes due to ideal weather conditions. Tomato production is up 15% from last year, with 11% more acres planted. Mike Montna, president and CEO of the California Tomato Growers Association, said this year's processing-tomato harvest -- now at the halfway point -- is heading toward a record for the state. Almonds are in record-shattering surpluses as well, and a decrease in production would actually save the industry.
"Besides the drought and water restrictions, Valley farms are full of bumper crops this year," said Hudson. " Agricultural surpluses of water-intensive crops such as almonds, tomatoes, walnuts, and pecans are expected."
Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), who was briefly interviewed by Hannity last night after being castigated as a "wacko" environmentalist, extended an on-air invitation to Hannity to visit northern California and the Pacific Northwest and interview the fishermen who have been without a livelihood for 2 years.
"Certainly we can do both," replied Hannity.
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Hannity has chosen to be a stooge for large landowners making a water grab so they can sell it to southern California for golf courses in the desert," said Grader.
Fortunately, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has held firm against Schwarzenegger's attempt to block the recovery of these imperiled fish and whales - and issued a statement responding to the misinformation in the broadcasT.
"They are asking the federal government to turn on water pumps that deliver water through the Bay Delta to Central Valley users, but the pumps are on," according to a Interior fact sheet updated on September 17. "The temporary pumping restrictions that were required under the Endangered Species Act ended on June 30th. They accounted for approximately one-quarter of 2009 water delivery shortages to farms and water users; the other three-quarters of this year's delivery shortage were the result of a lack of run-ofF."
The broadcast took place less than a week after a massive uprising by grassroots fishermen, conservationists, environmental justice advocates, northern California farmers and labor unions defeated a water bill package, pushed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and other legislators, that would have served as a road map to the peripheral canal on the Delta. In an affront to the democratic process, the Joint Conference Committee established by Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and a back door negotiating committee completely excluded Delta Legislators and fishing, tribal, environmental justice and Delta farming communities.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta, this week called on the California Legislature to include 9 ideas in future water package discussions following the failure of the Legislature to pass a package of water bills during the final weeks of the 2009 Legislative session.
"Restore the Delta is optimistic the California Legislature can bring groups together to find common ground on these complex issues," Barrigan-Parrilla stated. "But that is true only if they commit to addressing the real water policy issues that impact all Californians. We look forward to working with them this fall and winter." For the complete list of recommendations, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Dianne Feinstein and agribusiness's collaborators in the Legislature are continually campaigning for the construction of a peripheral canal and Temperance Flat and Sites Reservoirs in order to increase water exports to west side growers at tremendous expense to Delta fisheries and farms. Schwarzenegger, named as "Outdoor Villain" for 2008 by Field and Stream magazine, is also pressuring the Obama administration to overturn the federal biological opinions protecting Delta smelt, salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon and southern resident killer whales to curry the favor of agribusiness.
To see the Hannity show broadcast, go to:http://www.youtube.com/user/RepDevinNunes
COMPLETE DETAILS OF MISINFORMATION ON HANNITY'S FRESNO BROADCAST
False. Hundreds of laborers appeared in the background, backed up for miles, holding signs and screaming chants in support of Hannity.
True. These are the same workers with the same signs that have been hired by large farm growers for the past couple of rallies. On April 14, 2009, the same organization sponsoring Hannity's visit held a march that the United Farm Workers called a "grower-sponsored march, a grower-organized march, for water for growers....not a farmworkers' march." The New York Times reported "many of the protesters were paid by their employers to march in lieu of harvesting crops."
F. The unemployment rate in the San Joaquin Valley is over 40% because farmers cannot grow crops due to a lack of water.
T. The State of California's most recent employment data reports that Fresno County, the county in which Hannity filmed, has only 15% unemployment, compared to a 12.1% state average. Furthermore, farm jobs increased by 5.3% in the months immediate following the NMFS environmental ruling. Even before the global recession, the Western region of the county historically had the highest unemployment rate in the state. In 2000, before the drought and environmental restrictions, unemployment in the Western region was 32%.
F. The federal government has shut off the water pumps.
T. Most water is flowing through the valley. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that nearly 80% of the water from the ailing delta continues to flow directly into the valley. The local water district has a surplus of hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water that it is not distributing.
F. The water restrictions were issued to protect only a 2" smelT.
T. A number of species threatened with extinction in this region are being protected by this regulation, including salmon, sole, crab, herring, steelhead, sturgeon, bass, and killer whales. The collapse of one of these fisheries alone is costing the state $5.7 billion and 94,000 jobs.
F. The federal government is choosing fish over people.
T. Protecting regional fisheries creates numerous jobs. Both fish and agriculture can prosper if growers adopted simple, cost-effective irrigation techniques. More responsible farming practices would save 18 times the amount of water being diverted for salmon.
F. The price of processed tomato goods and almonds are going to skyrocket across the nation.
T. This year is predicted to be a record-breaking harvest of processing tomatoes due to ideal weather conditions. Tomato production is up 15% from last year, with 11% more acres planted. Mike Montna, president and CEO of the California Tomato Growers Association, said this year's processing-tomato harvest - now at the halfway point - is heading toward a record for the state. Almonds are in record-shattering surpluses as well, and a decrease in production would actually save the industry.
F. The NMFS ruling will require us to import more food from China.
T. Seafood is already the most imported food product in the United States. The NMFS estimates that 83% of all seafood consumed in America last year was imported from another country. Driving fisheries out of business will only increase food imports. On the other hand, 75% of California's almonds are exported out of the United States.
F. This decision was made by a handful of environmentalists.
T. Restoring water to fisheries has been ordered for over 15 years, beginning in 1992 with a Congressional law (Central Valley Improvement Act). A recent independent review was "flabbergasted" that the law has been ignored. A team of government scientists in the Bush administration ordered for water to be rerouted to save fisheries as well, although that order was shelved by the Secretary of the Interior. An additional report was recently released and approved by the new administration.
F. Local residents are flocking to food banks and waiting all day for food.
T. The local CBS station reported that only ‘dozens of families' showed up to the food bank.
F. The area of Fresno County in which Hannity reported is a ‘natural breadbasket' where agriculture flourishes.
T. Huron, CA receives an average of only 6.7 inches of rain a year, far less than what is needed to sustain agriculture.
The Politics of Drought: California Water Interests Prime the Pump in Washington
Kitty Felde and Viveca Novak
The DC bucket brigade
California water politics is mostly about geography -- Northern California's watershed versus the Central Valley, which relies on that water coming south to irrigate crops, versus Southern California, with its massive and thirsty urban population.
As the drought has worsened, those various interests have pushed harder for relief through campaign contributions to key members of Congress and by employing lobbyists.
The two biggest spenders on water issues are Westlands, whose customers own 600,000 acres of farmland in Fresno and Kings counties, and the owners of Kern County-based Paramount Farms, the nation's largest grower of pistachios and almonds...Paramount Farms is owned by Lynda and Stewart Resnick of Los Angeles. Their multi-billion dollar fortune comes from a diverse portfolio that includes Fiji bottled water. They have a controlling interest in the Kern Water Bank Authority, which stores underground supplies of water to irrigate Paramount's nut trees.
The Resnicks don't hire lobbyists at the federal level, but they're generous campaign contributors. They and people who work for their companies have given nearly $457,000 to candidates, political action and party committees since 2011. That includes nearly $321,000 from the Resnicks themselves...