Fresh controversy surrounds California Governor Gavin Newsom after it was revealed that companies that donated to him received state contracts without going through the proper bidding process.
A report by Reason revealed that the Democratic governor reportedly compensated individuals and companies that donated to him with lucrative state contracts.
Advance payments are a unique feature of California politics. State law defines a “behested” payment as a donation to a government program or charity made “at the request of, at the suggestion of, or made in cooperation, consultation, coordination or concert” with a public official.
According to the report, the payments received by the governor’s office broke records and exceeded previous donations by nearly $100 million.
“While most of the donations supported COVID-19 relief efforts, a closer look suggests that Newsom’s fundraising was supercharged not only by the pandemic, but also by the broad emergency powers the Democratic governor has assumed because of it,” the media outlet continued.
The story published by Reason revealed that Verily Life Sciences, a company owned by Google, received as much as $44 million in three different contracts to help operate the COVID-19 test sites, this, after Google donated $7 million in advertising credits back in April to the governor’s pandemic ad campaign.
“Similarly, AT&T received more than $40 million in contracts from the Office of Emergency Services. They donated $310,000 to the governor’s office and spent millions more lobbying the state last year,” Reason notes.
The same thing happened with Blue Shield of California insurance companies, which reportedly gave $45 million last year. Newsom subsequently appointed Paul Markovich, CEO of Blue Shield, to co-chair the governor’s COVID-19 testing task force.
On the brink of impeachment?
Newsom was elected with 62% of the vote two years ago and has seen his approval ratings slide for causing business shutdowns, keeping schools closed and poorly undertaking the vaccine rollout.
As of last week, 1.2 million signatures had been collected to recall the governor. Newsom, 53, would then become the second California governor to face impeachment.
Newsom has been embroiled in scandals that could take a toll on him at the time of his recall. Late last year, photographs uploaded to the Internet were made public in which Newsom was shown mingling, maskless, among guests at a dinner at the upscale French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley. Newsom apologized for attending the dinner and has called it a “blunder.”
Meanwhile, California has also been one of the slowest states to distribute the vaccine to the population.
“Governor Newsom should leave office because he has mishandled the COVID pandemic so badly, but we also have a significant number of jobs leaving the state, and the number of homeless people has grown much more during his tenure,” said Joe Collins, a former Republican congressional candidate.