We told you about billionaire Sean Parker’s obnoxious wedding romp in a Big Sur redwood grove. The Napster cofounder and former Facebook president will pay $2.5 million to the California Coastal Commission to help heal damages caused when a temporary wonderland backdrop was illegally built in the forest for his nuptial vows.
Well, it turns out that two of California’s most senior elected officials attended the wedding, living the kind of high life that only comes with an assault on threatened fish species and the trashing of a forest. Those officials were Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Newsom’s attendance at the anti-eco bash was interesting, given that the former San Francisco mayor has spent his political career yapping about how much he loves the environment.
Harris’ was interesting because she is the state’s top law enforcer, and Parker’s penalties stemmed from violations of state law.
(In an email to The Atlantic, Parker denied wrongdoing, saying the party preparations improved previously asphalt-covered campground lands and characterizing the $2.5 million payment as a conservation donation. But the commission’s report [PDF] is littered with accusations of violations, including construction without permits and “development undertaken in violation of the Coastal Act.” It describes at least $1 million that Parker must pay as a “penalty settlement” for the forestland violations.)
Enabled by a backroom deal that Parker cut with the Ventana Inn — a high-end resort that abuts an ancient forest and a creek teeming with steelhead trout — the wedding included an artificial pond, switchback stairways, fake ruins, and extra foliage that required Parker’s construction team to dig out, bulldoze, and otherwise molest areas of highly sensitive natural forest. …
Thus far, no one has divined whether Newsom’s fingerprints are on this deal. His website says that he rotates with State Controller John Chiang as chair of the three-member State Lands Commission, which oversees leasing of millions of acres of state-owned land and permitting of water channels in California. He also serves as a member to the California Ocean Protection Council. Interestingly, he also campaigned on a rather bullish environmental platform, claiming not only that he would work to conserve California’s precious natural resources, but that he would “work to secure permanent funding solutions for the California Coastal Commission.”
But Parker donated $13,000 to Newsom’s campaign for lieutenant governor, which suggests that the two of them might be (un)comfortably close. We have yet to hear Newsom’s report back from the wedding — calls to his office weren’t returned this morning.
We certainly hope the politicians enjoyed themselves. Otherwise it would be a waste of the scandalous trampling of a natural wonderland.
Get Grist in your inbox