California Recall · View

Gavin Newsom is a pro-business Governor. But there’s a major catch.

Gavin Newsom’s actions make it clear that he is a pro-business governor.

As a California small business owner whose success is greatly affected by state regulations and taxes, it’s important for me to closely monitor my elected leaders and their policies.

I want to refute the common criticism that Gov. Newsom is anti-business. He is an ardent supporter of businesses – so long as they’re political allies.

Across the country, politicians face constant and oftentimes vague accusations of conflicts of interest with campaign donors. But Gavin Newsom’s favoritism and disparate treatment is much more blatant.

A CapRadio investigation found that at least a half-dozen companies who contributed large amounts of money to Newsom’s campaign benefitted by receiving multi-million dollar no-bid contracts from the state.

UnitedHealth contributed over $120,000 to Gavin Newsom’s election campaign and $100,000 to his ballot measure committee. Last year, the company and its subsidiaries received no-bid and expedited contracts from the state totaling $492 million.

Blue Shield of California contributed $73,000 to Newsom’s election campaigns, $200,000 to his ballot measure committee, and $1 million to an “independent” committee supporting his gubernatorial run. Gavin Newsom appointed the company’s CEO to head the state’s COVID testing task force and the company received a $15 million no-bid contract for vaccine distribution.

Ke Li, the President of BYD, a Chinese manufacturer with a history of faulty products and accusations of using slave labor, personally donated $40,000 to Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign.

In 2020, he signed a $1.4 billion no-bid contract with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to manufacture masks and sell them to the state at a price of $3.30 each.

Amid deserved scrutiny, Newsom tried to sugarcoat the deal by painting BYD as a California manufacturer, which is true for some of its products. But in fact, the masks were manufactured in China.

On top of ethical concerns, Newsom’s apparent favoritism has proved detrimental to Californians. BYD failed to achieve its safety certification and the potentially life-saving masks were not delivered on-time. Vaccine distribution in California was severely botched, causing our state to have one of the lowest full vaccination rates in the country for months.

The hypocrisy of Gavin Newsom’s infamous maskless indoor party at the ritzy French Laundry while he shutdown indoor dining, outlawed group gatherings, and imposed mask requirements for the rest of the state’s mom-and-pop restaurants is well-known. But not enough attention has been given to an ABC10 report on the political shenanigans that likely unfolded at the party.

The birthday boy was Newsom confidant-turned-lobbyist Jason Kinney, who represents multiple high-profile institutions that PG&E owes money to including Deutsche Bank, NextEra Energy Inc, and IBEW Union 1245.

Shortly after the party, Newsom, as lead broker of PG&E’s bankruptcy exit, arranged for PG&E to repay the debts of his friend’s big wig clients before paying the court-ordered restitution to the Paradise residents who lost their homes and businesses in the Camp Fire.

In 2018, the film industry donated $1.7 million to Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign. Last year, Newsom mandated the closure of seemingly essential businesses such as gyms and restaurants–many of which are independently owned small businesses.

Inexplicably, he later decided to carve out the film industry, implying production of sitcoms and movies were “essential” but exercise and social dining were not. It’s no wonder Newsom recently received public endorsements from Hollywood celebrities and another $3.2 million to fight the recall effort – including $25,000 from Steven Spielberg, $32,000 from Walt Disney Co., and a whopping $3 million from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Despite the gravy train of contracts and assistance for businesses who contributed generously to Gavin Newsom’s political endeavors, the most aid small businesses could expect to receive from the state in the midst of the pandemic was $25,000–a drop in the bucket considering the revenue and livelihoods lost during the mandated shutdowns.

More than 40,000 California small businesses have permanently collapsed in California since last year and our governor didn’t even try to throw us a life preserver.

It’s unwise for a business owner to burn bridges. For that reason, I hesitated to publicly criticize Gov. Newsom.

Then I realized that there was never a bridge to burn in the first place – Gov. Newsom has never been and never will be a supporter of small businesses.

It’s in the urgent interest of Californians who value a thriving Main Street to remove a governor who plays favorites and disregards small businesses that can’t afford to pay to play in his good ol’ boy network.

Aaron Bergh is the owner and distiller of Calwise Spirits Co., a distillery and restaurant in Paso Robles.