Chevron Corp. donated $10,000 to a $348 million bond measure four days after it was approved by voters in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District last month.
The San Ramon oil giant donated the money to the Measure C campaign as a San Francisco subsidiary, Chevron Energy Solutions, continued to press the district to award it a $68 million, no-bid solar contract that would be paid by the bonds. District leaders told the company this week they planned to seek competitive bids on the project.
The June 12 donation, disclosed on documents obtained Friday from the Contra Costa County elections office, came the same day as a $5,000 donation from Camarillo-based SolarWorld California, which sometimes manufactures solar panels for Chevron projects.
Although the donations were apparently legal, they still raise questions about the district's close ties to its vendors, said Peter Scheer, an attorney and executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit open-government group.
"It's inappropriate, if not unethical, for them to be trying to influence the public's decision on a matter on which they will be profiting personally," he said.
The district's decision to seek bids came after Bay Area News Group questioned meetings between Mt. Diablo leaders and Chevron officials at the Walnut Creek home of district Superintendent Steven Lawrence. Some Mt. Diablo board members have said they were not aware of the meetings at the time they
Staff writer Theresa Harrington contributed to this story. Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Contact him at 925-943-8246. Follow him at Twitter.com/mattkrupnick.