Jerry Brown hit with whistleblower complaint over oil and gas survey

Ed previously covered the breaking story of an oil and gas survey scandal which landed in California Governor Jerry Brown’s lap this month. In case you missed it, Hizzoner apparently took it upon himself to direct the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency to do a survey of his extensive ranch and find out if there was anything under the ground worth tapping. This effort included satellite imaging and all the other scientific tools to estimate the potential fossil fuel reserves which might be found there. When pressed for an explanation, all the Governor’s office managed to come up with was a claim that the agency does that for regular people all the time. (That came as a surprise to the folks at the Department of Conservation.)

It seems that the Governor was unhappy about seeing this news in the headlines and a whistleblower from the regulatory agency is now crying foul, implying that some sort of retaliation toward her may be in the works. (NewsMax)

A worker in the state oil and gas regulatory agency lodged a whistleblower’s complaint over being ordered to prepare a state map of the oil and gas potential, history and geology of California Gov. Jerry Brown’s family ranch, the worker and her attorney said Monday.

Jennie Catalano, a mapping specialist who has been with the state Department of Conservation for 18 years, brought the complaint. She contends she faced unspecified retaliation after being suspected of lodging the complaint over being directed to do the personal work for Brown, said her attorney, William Rehwald.

“I was asked to help her in part because she does feel that she’s being retaliated against because she’s a whistleblower,” Rehwald said.

State records obtained by The Associated Press show Brown in June 2014 directed senior officials at the Department of Conservation’s oil and gas regulatory agency to map, research and assess the oil, gas and mineral history and potential of his 2,700-acre family ranch in Northern California near Williams.

This story hasn’t received a lot of national attention yet, but as the media continues to tug on the threads at the edges I’m guessing that it’s going to blow up before too long. There’s an old saying which assures us that, at least in politics, the cover-up is worse than the crime. I’m not so sure about that in this case. If Brown is trying to retaliate against the woman who objected to being sent out to check for black gold under the Governor’s personal property, that’s a serious charge which deserves attention. But the original action which spurred her complaint isn’t just some bit of bad optics or a shady interpretation of policy. Using state government resources for your own personal gain is a crime in California (along with plenty of other states) and it can land you in court, if not in jail.

There’s plenty of precedent for such speculation. The corruption at the heart of the Oregon governor’s resignation this past year dealt heavily with his girlfriend’s use of state resources for her own consulting firm. Rod Blagojevich, Edward DiPrete of Rhode Island and John Rowland of Connecticut all wound up spending some time at the crowbar motel for turning the power and personnel of the government to their own benefit. Most of the governors and other elected officials who fall into this trap go on to become comical footnotes in American political history.

The GOP in California has already called for a full investigation and Brown deserves a chance to clear his name. But the statements from the Governor’s office thus far seem to be admissions that it happened, with the only quibbling being over whether or not it’s allowed business as usual. If the findings show that this was precisely what it looks like thus far, this could very well be the beginning of the end of Jerry Brown’s governorship.

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