Open the books: Governor Newsom solicited state vendors for campaign donations

“California Governor Gavin Newsom has quietly solicited millions of dollars in campaign donations from state vendors, key individuals, employees, or their affiliated corporate political action committees,” open the books reports. “While progressives speak out against corporate money in politics, Governor Gavin Newsom has embraced the highly unethical practice of soliciting campaign funds from state contractors.”

At the end of August, the Globe shared a new report from open the books, which sued, then had to file 442 California Public Record Act requests — one with each state agency — to obtain California’s line-by-line spending by state agencies. State. California Comptroller Betty Yee denied their claim for state spending, saying she “couldn’t locate” any of the nearly $50 million in bills she paid in 2019.

“Following the money” was once the top agenda of the media “watchdog”.

Open the Books is a non-profit organization that “works hard to capture and publish all disclosed spending at all levels of government – ​​federal, state, and local.”

What Open the Books auditors found in California state spending was “979 state vendors who gave $10,561,828 in political donations to Gavin Newsom during his election cycles of 2010, 2018, recall and 2022. During that time, these companies reaped $6,201,978,173 in state payments.

It’s an investment of $10.6 million for a return of $6.3 billion.

This seems like a very good return on investment for state seller companies.

Open the Pay to Play Books report. (Photo: openthebooks.substack.com/p/california-gov-gavin-newsom-reaped)

Open the Books lists some of the companies that gave Governor Newsom campaign money and separately received significantly more payments from the state:

I. MAJOR HEALTHCARE COMPANIES – Gave $691,615 in campaign donations and received $1.9 billion in state payments.

Blue Cross anthem (health insurance provider) received $844,875,535 in state payments while donating $69,305 in Newsom’s elections in 2018 and 2022, including $40,000 in the 2022 cycle.

UnitedHealth Group (managed healthcare and insurance provider) received $544,245,717 in state payments while donating $120,900 between the 2018 and 2022 cycles – $62,000 was donated during the cycle 2022. Even Chief Compliance Officer Joy Hia donated $500 to the 2022 campaign.

Centene Corporation (Fortune 500 managed care company) and Health Net, LLC, a major subsidiary, which provides health plans to people on Medicare and Medicaid, received $206,155,778 in state payments while donating $242,550. The company itself donated $121,800 while then-CEO Michael Neidoff gave $120,400 between 2018 and 2022. Not included was an additional $120,400 from wife Noemi Neidoff. Michael Neidoff passed away on April 7, 2022.

Permanent Kaiser received $172,217,805 while employees donated $35,910, including government relations vice president Gary Cohen ($5,000 | 2018 election).

California Blue Shield received $74,283,100 in state payments while donating $102,550, including $70,200 from the company and $32,350 from key executives and employees.

Masimo Companya health-tech company, received $3,820,654 in state payments and donated $120,400 to Newsom’s 2018 and 2022 races — half of the donations came in 2022.

II. MAJOR UTILITY COMPANIES – Gave $405,601 in campaign donations and received $430,416,420 in state payments:

Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) based in San Francisco heavily criticized for its role in the California wildfires and recently emerged from bankruptcy. The company received $323,777,292 in state payments (fiscal 2021) and made $123,929 in donations for the 2018 election. These donations included five- and six-figure donations from five C-suite leaders , including CEO Geisha Williams ($10,000). Due to ongoing scandals, Newsom stopped receiving donations from PG&E after his election in 2018. The company also donated $358,000 between 2011 and 2018 to Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s charity.

Edison International, along with its Southern California Edison subsidiaries and consulting firm Edison Energy, LLC, received $100,575,389 in state payments and gave $67,850 in campaign donations through the company, employees keys and staff. Additionally, the company’s trade association, Edison Electric Institute, donated $15,000 to Newsom’s 2018 race.

Calpine Corporation, the largest producer of electricity from natural gas and geothermal sources in the United States with 33 facilities in California received $3,134,154 in state payments and gave $109,822 in campaign donations. CEO Thad Hill gave $10,000 and other top executives gave Newsom $12,500.

California Water Utilities Company (Cal Water) received $2,121,724 in state payments and donated $94,000 between Newsom’s 2018 and 2022 campaigns.

American Water Company of Californiaa subsidiary of American Water – the largest water and wastewater utility in the United States – received $807,861 in state payments and donated $10,000 through its employees PAC in the 2018 election. American Water also donated at least $5,000 to the governor’s wife’s charity in 2019.

“In all of these examples, the donations came from the organization itself or from its officers, employees, affiliates, partners, or political action committees during Newsom’s election cycles in 2010, 2018, and 2022,” says Open the Books. .

This is just the tip of the iceberg. And it seems that the first partner also benefited.

Open the Pay to Play Books report. (Photo: openthebooks.substack.com/p/california-gov-gavin-newsom-reaped)

Open The Books also found “pay to play” vendor contributions going to the first partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who they said solicited state vendors for donations to her charity, The Representation Project.

Here is what they found:

Large corporations with state contracts or pre-state business gave the charity five- and six-figure donations. The Sacramento Bee and Washington Post previously identified the companies and today we know how much these companies reaped in payments from state agencies. (23 and Me is the only donor that was not on the state vendor list, however, they had an interest in 2021 state legislation regulating the use of consumer genetic data.)

IRS Information 990 returns for the show The Representation Project that Siebel-Newsom received $1.5 million in salary from 2013 to 2021 and an additional $1.6 million in payments to her private company, Girls Club Entertainment since 2012.

Open The Books notes that in all of the examples identified in the report, no quid pro quo is alleged or implied; however, the trends are troubling. “In fact, individual transactions are legal at arm’s length. But that is precisely the problem. Politicians run, in essence, a legalized money laundering system aimed at monetizing the political power in place.

This is precisely the problem. Politics is an industry in itself in California, and very profitable for those who know how to pay to play.

You can access the full reports at Open The Books websiteas well as their OpenTheBooks sub-stack.

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About Michael S. Montanez

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