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Several San Diego elected leaders have accepted campaign donations from Sempra

Every elected leader CBS 8 spoke with said Sempra's donations have had no effect on their decisions.

SAN DIEGO — SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra, has donated to thousands of political campaigns over the years and CBS 8 discovered that several San Diego politicians have been among those accepting their money. So are those elected leaders listening to Sempra or you?

Without question, residents across our county have been vocal to our elected officials in Sacramento, expressing their frustration over rising power bills

“In our district offices, the phones are definitely blowing up,” said State Senator Ben Hueso. And he’s not alone. 

“I don't think there's any legislator, not in San Diego at least, not getting these emails... not getting calls from constituents,” added Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath.

So what are those we elected to represent us in Sacramento doing to help solve this problem?

ASM Boerner Horvath says she's asking for an audit of both SDG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which approves rate hikes.

Assemblyman Randy Voepel sent us a statement saying: 

"I plan to compose a letter to the CPUC asking for meaningful reform that addresses the most recent rate hike and minimizes future costs to consumers."

And Assemblyman Brian Maienshein added:

"I am calling on the CPUC for answers. I want to know why they approved a rate increase when so many families are already struggling; what is being done to lower the cost of electricity and why so many customers say they were caught off guard. San Diegans deserve answers."

Senator Hueso says state leaders have created programs to help struggling Californians pay their electric bills. He also believes part of the problem is that the state continues to be too generous to homeowners with solar. “Those that don't have solar in San Diego are subsidizing the electricity for people that have solar,” Hueso said.

Senator Brian Jones, Senator Patricia Bates, and Assemblyman Chris Ward also sent CBS 8 statements. Though they all had different reasons as to why they think our prices are suddenly spiking, they all agree that changes need to be made.

The office of Senator Toni Atkins told us she was too busy for a Zoom interview and they never responded to email requests for a statement. We also never heard from Assemblymember Marie Waldron.

According to the non-profit OpenSecrets.org, Atkins has received over $20,000 in campaign contributions from SDG&E's parent company, Sempra. Waldron over $17,000.

Dr. Akilah Weber’s office contacted us late Monday to say they would have a statement after attending a briefing on the issue later this week. Dr. Weber appears to be the only current state legislator who has not taken any money from Sempra.

Every elected leader CBS 8 spoke with said Sempra's donations have had no effect on their decisions. Senator Hueso adding, “votes win elections. Money doesn't.”

Editor's Note: We received the following statement from Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) on Tuesday, February 15 a day after this story aired.

“The massive rate increase that has occurred over the past year is simply too much for too many San Diego ratepayers.  There needs to accountability by not only to our utility, San Diego Gas and Electric, but also state regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission. People are in need economic relief, not double digit increases to their utility bills. San Diegans deserve an explanation, and I will be working to get answers, while also focusing our legislative budget efforts on ways to provide relief for constituents who are struggling to keep up with housing costs, inflation, water issues, and now utility spikes.”

RELATED: North County legislator will ask for audit of SDG&E and the CPUC

RELATED: How to dispute your SDG&E bill

Watch Related: A closer look at the compensation for Sempra & SDG&E executives (Feb 9, 2022)

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