The makeup of CIOMA’s membership has changed significantly since I began representing the association in 1994. At that time, the membership was primarily made up of small family owned businesses. CIOMA was identified in the Legislature as the association which represented independent petroleum “jobbers” and “little oil”. The major oil companies were identified as “big oil” and owned their branded service stations and trucks, which delivered the fuel to their company stations. CIOMA was identified as the jobbers who delivered fuel to unbranded service stations, farmers, schools, local governments, marinas, etc. CIOMA did not have identity issues or negative reactions from legislators because of the word “oil” in California Independent Oil Marketers Association.
CIOMA has always had good relationships with Republicans and moderate Democrats, which is still the case. Actually, during the time I have represented CIOMA, we have had more sponsored bills signed into law which were authored by moderate Democrats. Major oil would frequently come to CIOMA for help in authoring legislation that was beneficial to both CIOMA and WSPA because we had strong relationships with many Democrats who were supportive of independent small business. Currently, much of CIOMA’s membership is comprised of larger companies and owners of convenience stores. The association’s issues of interest have grown substantially. These issues are complex and controversial, and include major topics such as electric vehicles, charging stations, flex fuel, grocery issues, tobacco, liquor and most recently marijuana. Since major oil no longer owns their own stations and trucks, we continue to cover all the fuel and tax issues. These issues are extremely broad and difficult. Not only has CIOMA’s membership changed, but also the makeup of the Legislature has changed and is now much more liberal.
The CIOMA name no longer clearly identifies who their membership is comprised of. Also, we have encountered problems with legislators who are supportive of our issues, but they will not accept CIOMPAC contributions because of the word “oil” in the association’s name. One example of this was when Assembly Member Ira Ruskin authored a very difficult UST bill for CIOMA. We were successful in passing the bill and getting it signed into law by the Governor. As a result, the Board of Directors voted to give their Legislator of the Year Award to Assembly Member Ruskin. He was honored and presented the award at a CIOMA membership dinner. We would not have been successful if we had not had a strong Democratic author who was well respected by his peers (both Democrats and Republicans), and a member the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. Assembly Member Ruskin’s campaign manager advised him not to accept any contributions from CIOMA because oil money would not be well received in his liberal bay area district. I know this as a fact, because Assemblyman Ruskin apologized to me personally. Another example is with current Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma, who was a former Assembly Member. Fiona Ma is a licensed CPA, a former small business owner who has a good understanding of CIOMA’s taxation issues, and was very supportive. During her term in the Assembly she accepted CIOMPAC contributions, but since she has been at the Board of Equalization, she no longer accepts oil money.
CIOMA needs to look to the future for a name that will best identify their membership.