California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a press conference following the opening of a new large scale COVID-19 vaccination site at Cal State Los Angeles on February 16, 2021.

Newsom Called on the Companies Lobbying Him to Fund His Pandemic Response

in Sludge
on February 23, 2021

Facing the possibility of a recall election, California Gov. Gavin Newsom raised hundreds of millions of dollars from corporations and CEOs with interests before his administration last year to expand his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsom solicited more than $226 million worth of donations from companies, nonprofit foundations, and wealthy individuals in 2020, a drastic increase in the amount he had raised in his previous years as governor. The donations were disclosed by Newsom as behested payments, according to data from the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The previous year’s behested payments totaled $12.1 million.

Among the donors are several major lobbying forces in California. For example, Google agreed to donate $10 million to Newsom’s pandemic response as it lobbied the governor’s office on Licensing Issues, Privacy Regulations and COVID 19 related Issues. Blue Shield of California agreed to donate $20 million to Project Homekey, a Newsom initiative to provide housing for vulnerable populations to prevent the spread of COVID. The company was lobbying Newsom in 2020 on things like “Specialty drugs, Medi-Cal, 3rd party payments, mental health parity, cost containment, health information exchange, and Managed Care Organization tax.”

Newsom famously was caught going out for a fancy group dinner, indoors, in November as COVID cases were surging and after telling his constituents for months that they should not do exactly what he was doing. The dinner was to celebrate the birthday of his lobbyist buddy Jason Kinney, whose lobbying firm is employed by Facebook, which donated nearly $27 million to Newsom’s pandemic response, and Netflix, whose CEO donated $3 million.

The table below of donation information is best viewed on desktop.

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