Farmers Try Political Force to Twist Open California’s Taps

New York Times, 12.31.15:

A powerful article about the political clout of Westlands Water District:

Westlands arid“A water utility on paper, Westlands in practice is a formidable political force, a $100 million-a-year agency with five lobbying firms under contract in Washington and Sacramento, a staff peppered with former federal and congressional powers, a separate political action committee representing farmers and a government-and-public-relations budget that topped $950,000 last year. It is a financier and leading force for a band of 29 water districts that spent at least another $270,000 on lobbying last year. Its nine directors and their relatives gave at least $430,000 to federal candidates and the Republican Party in the last two election cycles, and the farmers’ political action committee gave more than $315,000 more.

“Aggressive, creative and litigious … the district has made enemies of environmentalists, rival politicians and other farmers whose water it has tried to appropriate. But it has also repeatedly made deals and won legislative favors to keep water flowing to itself and to farms across the San Joaquin Valley, California’s agricultural heartland.”

Click here to read the full article.