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Hand holding out a stack of money tied to the end of a stick for briberyLocal campaign contribution reports over the past week created no new intrigues but Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter had three interesting items to report.

Potter, campaigning to retain his seat in the 5th Supervisorial District, reported returning a $2,000 contribution from David Demshur of Houston, whose Core Laboratories is a big player in the oil fracking industry. Potter’s latest campaign filing says the money was returned May 13, the day after the Partisan wrote about the contribution.

With an anti-fracking initiative heading to the November ballot, the candidates are sensitive to any perception of support from the oil industry, but both Potter and his opponent, Mary Adams, have received contributions from South County landowners who could benefit from a fracking boom.

Parker also accepted a $1,000 contribution in April from prominent oil and gas lawyer Lawrence Wolfe of Cheyenne, Wyo.

Potter maintains a big fund-raising lead over Adams thanks to considerable input from both inside and outside the area. Two recent outside contributions that advance the campaign story line: $500 from Chris Bardis and $1,000 from Susan McCabe.

Bardis is a Sacramento attorney who is a big promoter of harness racing and horse racing in general. The Adams campaign has gone after Potter for bringing the Monterey Downs horse racing proposal to Fort Ord and for his behind-the-scenes work to promote the tremendously controversial project.

McCabe is noteworthy because she is the most active and successful lobbyist of the California Coastal Commission, of which Potter was once a member. She almost always represents people or businesses wanting to develop along the shore and she has come under recent scrutiny for her role in removing strong environmentalist Charles Lester from the commission’s leadership position. In his campaign filing, Potter identifies her only as a “self-employed manager.”

In campaign mailings, Adams has made much of Potter’s low rating by environmental groups while he was on the commission, which led to his earlier removal from the commission. He was replaced by Santa Cruz Assemblyman Mark Stone, who has a much better environmental report card.

The Carmel Pine Cone in its last edition attacked Adams with exceptional vigor, claiming she was lying about Potter having been removed from the commission. To support that, the weekly paper interviewed then-Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, who said she had appointed Stone in Potter’s place only because it was time for a change and that she had not even considered Potter’s voting record. The Pine Cone accepted that as gospel, apparently not even considering that Bass was merely reciting the type of lines scripted for such occasions. It is inconceivable that an Assembly speaker would make such an important change without carefully examining the records of the former commissioner and his replacement. Inconceivable to most, that is.

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Oil pump jacks at sunset sky background. Toned.Expect to hear lots about fracking over the next several months as Monterey County residents consider a likely November ballot measure on the subject, but meanwhile maybe someone can explain why the CEO of a company heavily involved in fracking chose to make a $2,000 contribution to the re-election campaign of Supervisor Dave Potter last week.

Houston resident David Demshur made $6 million last year as the head honcho of Core Laboratories, a Netherlands-based company that mostly advises oil companies on how to best extract every last drop from their wells. Core’s corporate literature says the “reservoir optimization company” isn’t actually involved in hydraulic fracturing itself but provides “services that are used by others to develop and perform hydraulic fracturing and field flood projects and to evaluate the success of those projects. Our services and technologies play a key role in the success of both methods.”

A quick check of Demshur’s campaign contribution history shows he was a generous backer of John McCain and Sarah Palin and he once wrote a smallish check for a city council candidate in the Orange County community of Dana Point but not much turns up beyond that.

We sent an email to Core asking Demshur why he is so interested in Monterey County politics. We’ll keep you posted about any reply.

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