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Candidates defend donation from Sempra Energy

February 03, 2001

Karen S. Kim

BURBANK -- Faced with the possibility of public distrust over a

campaign donation received from Sempra Energy, the parent company of

Southern California Gas Company, City Council candidate Stacey Murphy

said she will look into returning the $250 she received on Dec. 27.

Although Murphy doesn't think there is a conflict of interest, as the

city in her words "doesn't really have a relationship" with Sempra and

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the City Council "doesn't control gas prices," Murphy hopes her decision

will clear up any confusion on the part of voters.

The only other candidate to receive money from Sempra is Councilman

David Golonski, also an incumbent.

In December, Murphy and Golonski were approached by Anthony Tartaglia,

district manager for Southern California Gas Company, who offered each a

campaign donation from the Sempra Energy Employees Political Action

Committee fund.

Each candidate received $250 for their campaigns.

"He's worked with me for four years, and he approached me and told me

there was leftover PAC money they wanted to donate to my campaign,"

Murphy said. "If it really offends anyone, I have no problem returning

the money."

Murphy said she would contact City Clerk Judie Sarquiz to find out if

it's still possible to return the donation.

Golonski said the donation will have no impact on his service as a

council member.

"If there's any conception that [the gas company] gets some favoritism

from that, that's not anywhere near accurate," Golonski said. "If there

were a vote, and I thought I should vote against Sempra 100%, I wouldn't have a problem doing that."

The Sempra Energy PAC fund is used for local and state candidates'

campaigns in communities where the gas company does business, Tartaglia

said.

Though Southern California Gas Company works with Burbank Water and

Power, acting as the transportation agency for Burbank's gas, it is

prohibited by law from collaborating with any other Sempra Energy

companies. BWP has an agreement with Sempra Energy Trading, which brokers

Burbank's excess energy.

"There's no conflict of interest. This donation was made on behalf of

SoCal Gas by Sempra Energy," Tartaglia said. "There's absolutely no

hidden agenda on the part of the gas company or Sempra. The gas company

is simply donating to candidates who have worked in the city we do

business in."

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