Will Jerry Brown Apologize for Using State Workers for Personal Business?

Amid ongoing media scrutiny of Gov. Jerry Brown for using state workers to search for oil on his own private land, he and his staff continue to claim that he received no special treatment. That's untrue, and instead of being tone deaf to the growing consensus, he should acknowledge his mistake and apologize.  
After the Associated Press exposed that in 2014 Brown directed his then-newly appointed State Oil & Gas Supervisor Steve Bohlen at California’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to find out what was buried on the 2,700-acre ranch his family has owned for a century, we created an webpage (view here) where the public could ask DOGGR to check out their land, just like it did for the governor. 
We figured it was the appropriate response, because the governor's office said that it’s the agency’s job to survey property for the public and that Brown has the same right to public records as anyone else. If the governor's request wasn't anything special, then they must do it for anyone.
But emails we, the San Francisco Chronicle and the AP* received show an evolving agency response. Last week, someone told us that the state gave them very little information and was informed that DOGGR doesn't give that level of help. Hardly the 51-page, satellite-image map that was hand-delivered to Brown. A few days ago, one emailer forwarded a response that gave links to websites and pdfs. And on Thursday, another person showed us a more detailed response to their request.
The AP said an California lawmaker was initially rebuffed for similar information and that California residents expressed disappointment at the state's response. 
"Our Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources does not evaluate property for its oil and gas potential, despite what you may have heard or read," Don Drysdale, the oil and gas division's spokesman, said in an email last week to a Sacramento resident, Sean Donovan.
Donovan, who had written the state asking it to check out oil prospects on his parents' land, was disappointed. "The agency shouldn't say that they are treating us all as they would Gov. Brown when that doesn't seem true," he said this week.
Schilling acknowledged Thursday the email to Donovan was "unhelpful and confusing." She called it a result of the deluge of requests the state now is getting on oil research and said the state this week is providing more comprehensive responses.
According to the Chronicle, some people who filed a request received no summary, and no records beyond what ordinary Web users could look up on their own.
Another response reviewed by The Chronicle included the Well Finder link, a link to several specific well records and an offer to put together a map upon request. Again, no summary. Some of the records linked are relatively easy for lay people to understand. Others are not.
Oil industry experts had told the AP that they have never heard of DOGGR mapping land for private individuals, let alone for politicians. Then there's the lawsuit filed by the R. Rex Parris law firm, representing farmers in a RICO action filed against the governor’s Office, regulators, and oil companies. In its complaint, the lawsuit alleges that after Brown diverted state resources to create a map of his personal holdings, he “then threatened his newly appointed State Oil & Gas Supervisor Steve Bohlen with termination after Bohlen emailed the commissioned document directly to Brown.” The law firm also said a worker was retaliated against after she complained about the request.
The governor's treatment of oil and gas regulators is unsurprising, especially in light of his family's history.  In 2011, he fired two key regulators for daring to repeatedly warn him that oil drilling would harm the state’s groundwater. It was later revealed that DOGGR had allowed Big Oil to drill thousands of oilfield wastewater disposal wells into federally protected aquifers, effectively ruining that water. The RICO lawsuit, which alleges that Brown acted to save the oil industry money, cites more than $1 million in oil company contributions in support of Brown’s campaign for a state income tax hike within months of the firings.
Brown also failed to join the fight to cut petroleum use by 50 percent in an historic attempt to combat climate change until it was too late. It was a cut that Big Oil spent millions to kill.
As long as Brown and his minions refuse to acknowledge and apologize for crossing the line, mapgate will continue to attract media attention.
*Updated with story from the Associated Press

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