As complaints mount about fire clean-up, disaster contractor gives big money to California Dems

Cal Matters

A Florida-based company accused of botching the clean-up after last year’s devastating fires in Santa Rosa has jumped into California politics, writing big checks to Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign and the California Democratic Party. 

AshBritt, which contracted with the federal government to clean up the disaster, and another company owned by AshBritt chairman Randal Perkins together donated $250,000 to the state Democratic Party on Oct. 4, campaign filings show. Two weeks earlier, AshBritt CEO Brittany Perkins donated $29,200 to Newsom’s campaign, the maximum allowed.

The donations come as Santa Rosa homeowners complain their fire-ravaged properties were further damaged by federal contractors, and as California emergency officials blast the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for lax oversight, leading to “negligent and potentially fraudulent acts” by the contracted companies. An AshBritt spokesman said the company followed all laws and regulations during the clean-up and that criticism from state leaders has nothing to do with its foray into California politics. California Democrats aren’t the only ones benefiting from AshBritt’s political spending this year.

The company also donated $500,000 to a pro-Trump super-PAC in April. That led to a complaint by the Campaign Legal Center, alleging that federal contractors are prohibited from making federal campaign contributions and that the donation was made the day after AshBritt received a payment of almost the same amount from a Department of Defense contract.

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