“Dredging” Up the Truth on the Koch Brothers “Million dollar club” backer of Restore the Delta

March 17, 2015

To: Interested Parties
Fr: Steven Maviglio, Restore the Delta Truth
Re: “Dredging” Up the Truth on the Koch Brothers “Million dollar club” backer of Restore the Delta

Remember Dino Cortopassi’s full-page, small text “Liar, Liar” ads in the state’s major newspapers? Turns out that headline might also come in handy for the group he’s funded: Restore the Delta.

Dino Cortopassi is a major donor to Restore the Delta, helping the group raise $640,000 in one dinner. Perhaps that’s why the group awarded Cortopassi its “Delta Advocacy Award.”

The group says it is for protecting the Delta. But its financial backers and founders are developers that are paving the Delta, promoting Delta dredging, as well as using thousands of acre feet of Delta water each year for uses like golf courses.

Like billionaire Dino Cortopassi.

Dino Cortopassi has aggressively advocated for massive dredging of Delta river channels – despite the fact that dredging can pose a significant threat to marine wildlife and the environment.

Restore the Delta also criticizes “billionaire farmers” and “big agribusiness” for creating problems in the Delta. But apparently the group has no shame fronting for someone who the Sacramento Bee dubbed a “wealthy Delta farmer”.

Cortopassi owns 7,000 acres of land, including about 3,000+ acres in the Delta. According to the State Water Resources Control Board, his Delta land alone uses more than 14,000 acre feet of water each year.

Restore the Delta’s Executive Director, Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, argues that farmers should change their model and stop growing water-intensive crops like rice. But nearly half of Cortopasi’s water usage in the Delta is to grow rice, according to the State Water Resources Control Board Electronic Water Rights Information Management System (e-WRIMS).

In fact, Cortopassi has received millions of dollars in federal farm subsidies since 1995 for crops including rice, according to the Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidy database.

On the political front, Cortopassi was named to the Koch Brothers “Million Dollar Club,” and has been a long-time backer. He attended a June 2010 Aspen meeting held by the Kochs.

Cortopassi has also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to political issues and ballot measures in California, including efforts to oppose universal pre-school for children (Prop 82) and to require union members to opt-out of paying dues towards political purposes (Prop 75).

It begs the question: Is “Restore the Delta” really just about carrying the proverbial water for wealthy Delta developers, dredgers and agribusinesses?