The speaker was far from alone in his decision to accept PG&E’s money. Eight out of every 10 sitting California state lawmakers took money from PG&E while the company was a known felon.

ABC10 contacted all 98 lawmakers who took the money asking whether they stand by their decision to accept money from a convicted felon and whether they would return the money.

A list of responses is being compiled to accompany the series, currently scheduled for release in early July.

As of this publication, one lawmaker told us he returned his $1,500 donation to PG&E after the company filed for bankruptcy in January 2018. Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) has yet to reply to ABC10’s follow-up question asking why he took funds from a felon in the first place.


People routinely lose their rights when convicted of felonies in California. They lose their Second Amendment right to own guns. Until released from prison, they don’t have the right to vote.

As a corporation, PG&E’s felony convictions did nothing to stop it from legally influencing elections. There’s no law banning politicians from accepting campaign donations from felons.

Asked to defend its campaign donations, PG&E declined to address the substance of the question.

In a written statement, the company did claim that “PG&E holds itself to the highest standards of public disclosure and compliance with applicable laws.”


The law treats corporations as people, which means they can be convicted of crimes.

Before convicting PG&E of six federal felonies, jurors were instructed by the federal court to treat PG&E the same as any person facing the same criminal charges.

“Under the law, a corporation is considered a person,” the jury instructions read. “And all persons are equal.”

A jury in San Francisco found PG&E guilty of willfully disregarding federal safety standards while running its natural gas pipelines after one of them suddenly split in 2010, blowing up a neighborhood in San Bruno.

Eight people died in the explosion, many more people were injured, and a neighborhood was destroyed.

The jury also convicted PG&E of one felony count of obstruction of justice for misleading federal agents about its policies during the investigation of the disaster.

“PG&E has already been convicted of lying,” said Mark Toney, who runs a nonprofit called The Utility Reform Network, which advocates for power customers. “Why should a convicted felon corporation enjoy the same rights and privileges as a corporation that hasn’t been convicted?”

The probation for PG&E is now under the supervision of Federal Judge William Alsup, who recently felt compelled to point out the law’s limitations.

“A corporation cannot go to prison,” Alsup explained in a recent court filing while deciding what to do about PG&E’s recent probation violation.

The revelation that so many politicians took money from a convicted felon exposes another stark difference between how corporations and people are treated when convicted of crimes.


Legal experts told ABC10 that PG&E’s crimes connected to the San Bruno disaster would likely have earned a human defendant 5-10 years of prison time under federal sentencing guidelines. The maximum sentence for PG&E’s crimes would have been 30 years behind bars.

No individual people from PG&E were named in the charges, which is why no one went to prison for the crimes.

PG&E hasn’t been a model federal offender since it began probation in 2017.

Alsup recently sentenced PG&E for violating the terms of its probation. Prison wasn’t an option for punishment. All the judge could do was add new terms to the company’s probation.

Alsup added a term to PG&E’s probation requiring it to meet the terms of its wildfire prevention plan, a document that was required by state lawmakers in SB 901 — the deal struck in the state Capitol to help the PG&E pay for damage caused by 2017 wildfires in wine country.

If charged with new crimes for starting the 2018 Camp Fire or any of the 17 wildfires blamed on PG&E equipment in October 2017, the company would have incentive to try to reach a settlement.