California Governor Takes Aim at Concealed Carry, Fresno DA

In response to recent deadly shootings in the state, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new legislation this week that would make obtaining concealed carry permits more difficult. Likewise, he engaged in a war of words with the Fresno County District Attorney over the case of a Central Valley police officer whom a gunman shot and killed on Tuesday.

Newsom announced the introduction of Senate Bill 2, authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino and also backed by California Attorney General Rob Bonta. SB 2 would make California’s licensing system for concealed carry permits more stringent; set a minimum age of 21 for obtaining a concealed carry permit; create stiffer training requirements related to handling, loading, unloading and storage of firearms; and establish “safe community places” where concealed firearms would be restricted.

“The mass shooting incidents we have seen over recent weeks bring to light the need for stronger protections for our communities,” Attorney General Bonta said in a statement. “The fact is, individuals who are not law-abiding, responsible citizens simply shouldn’t possess firearms — and they especially shouldn’t be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public.”

Newsom’s office claims efforts to loosen concealed carry restrictions across the country have resulted in an increased in violent crime. Gun homicides increased by 22% in states that passed permitless carry laws, while violent crimes with a firearm rose by 29%, according to the governor’s office.

Following the killing of Selma Police Officer Gonzalo Carrasco Jr. by a gunman with a criminal background, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp criticized Newsom for policies allowing the early release of inmates from prison.

Newsom responded to Smittcamp during a press conference on gun law reform saying, “She should blame herself. I’ve been listening to this for years. She has the prosecutorial discretion. Ask her what she did in terms of prosecuting that case. I’m sick and tired of being lectured by her about public safety.”

Click here to read the full article at CalCoastMatters

California’s First Lady Produces ‘Gender Justice’ Films, Sells to State Public Schools

Just a little conflict of interest?

California Governor Gavin Newsom and his wife, “First Partner” Jennifer Siebel Newsom, have quite a money-making scheme going on: “He runs the state and she’s a nonprofit founder, entrepreneur, and filmmaker,” Open the Books reports.

“While her husband attends to state business, Siebel Newsom engages in her passion: advancing ‘gender justice’ through her charitable nonprofit The Representation Project. According to tax documents the organization is ‘committed to building a thriving and inclusive society through films, education, and social activism.’”

Jennifer Siebel Newsom solicited state vendors and the governor’s campaign donors for large gifts to her charity, The Representation Project.

Siebel Newsom, through her non-profit The Representation Project, has released four films advocating gender justice. The films are leased for screenings to individuals, corporations, and schools, and come with their own lesson plans. Schools spend between $49-$599 to screen these movies to children.

With her Governor husband, who would dare deny her solicitations?

See just a little conflict of interest?

FLOWCHART: How Jennifer Siebel Newsom used taxpayer dollars to trade with herself, her nonprofit organization, and her for-profit business. The organization refused to disclose how much of their screening revenues came from California public schools. (Photo: Open the Books, with permission)

Open the Books dug in and reports:

Jennifer Siebel Newsom is credited as a writer and director on each of these films. Two of the movies feature Gavin Newsom himself, and many of the lesson plan activities are oriented toward engaging children in social and political activism.

Because of Gavin Newsom’s role in these films and because licenses are sold to schools which the governor is responsible for funding with tax dollars, auditors at felt the organization deserved further scrutiny.

Who’s Watching? 2.6 million students in 5,000 schools.

“Auditors at watched Newsom’s movies and read the lesson plans. What we found was, at times, shocking: sexually explicit images, political boosterism, and something called ‘The Genderbread Person.’”

The Globe watched the Misrepresentation Middle School movie as well. It’s a documentary, but it hammers strong feminist and gender justice messages for school kids ages 11-14:

  • Women as sex objects
  • Women/girls “in a disempowered position”
  • Few female protagonists in movies
  • women/girls portrayed as only seeking men, husbands, marriage, pregnancy
  • boys should be trained to not be “hyper masculine” or “misogynistic”
  • Middle school children are served images of upside-down strippers with little left to the imagination
  • the “genderbread person,” who aims to show children how biological sex, “gender expression,” “sexual attraction,” and “gender identity” exist on a spectrum, which can be mixed and matched.

The movie is not age appropriate for Middle Schoolers, and really should not have any place in school curriculum. It is pure propaganda.

Open the Books moved on to Siebel Newsom’s film The Mask You Live In, which features the website addresses of porn sites including Porn Hub, MassiveCams, BDSM.XXX, and The pornographic images displayed in the film are tagged with descriptions such as “domination,” “face fuck,” “kinky couples,” and “…dirty brunettes.”

“Siebel Newsom included images of naked or mostly naked women being slapped, handcuffed, and brutalized in pornographic videos. The pictures are graphic even when blurred. Screenshots of those scenes can be found HERE (VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED).” The movie claims it will show “how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men,” and will help “shape the national conversation around healthy masculinity.”

Open the Books also exposes lesson plans from The Representation Project which promote radical gender and sexuality messages:

One such lesson for middle and high schoolers includes the “genderbread person,” who aims to show children how biological sex, “gender expression,” “sexual attraction,” and “gender identity” exist on a spectrum, which can be mixed and matched.

While kindergarteners are spared the genderbread person in their curriculum, they are offered similar lessons on “gender identity,” introducing genders other than “boy” and “girl.”

Gavin Newsom is featured in Miss Representation and The Great American Lie as himself, talking about how he appointed women as police chief and fire chief when he was San Francisco Mayor, but only because they were the “most qualified” people for the jobs.

“Newsom speaks three times in Miss Representation and is portrayed as a champion of women’s rights—see this example from the middle school curriculum video (18:37).”

It is shameless political propaganda, and it is shown to young school kids.

“Getting paid by schools to portray your politician husband as a standup guy to captive children in the classroom was such a winning idea, Siebel Newsom deployed it again in The Great American Lie,” Open the Books reports.

The Great American Lie examines the roots of systemic inequalities through a unique gender lens,” Siebel Newsom’s movie page states. “With America facing widening economic inequality and stagnant social mobility, this film takes audiences on an empathy journey, inspiring a path forward.”

Open the Books summarizes the actual threats of the movies:

Kids forced to watch The Representation Project films in schools aren’t just subjected to gender ideology, sexually explicit images, and Gavin Newsom’s one-liners. They’re being given a left-wing framework through which to see the world, and then prompted to conduct social and political activism.

In The Great American Lie curriculum, students are asked to do a “privilege walk,” divulging personal information in order to compare themselves to peers inside and outside the classroom. “Privileges” include being “a cisgendered man,” “white,” “born in the United States,” “straight,” and speaking English as a first language.

First Partner solicits state vendors and Governor’s campaign contributors

In January, the Globe covered the Open the Books report which found in California’s state spending “979 state vendors who gave $10,561,828 in political donations to Gavin Newsom during his 2010, 2018, recall election, and 2022 election cycles. Meanwhile, these companies reaped $6,201,978,173 in state payments.”

That’s a $10.6 million investment for a $6.3 billion return.

Open The Books also found “pay to play” vendor contributions going to the first partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who they say solicited state vendors for donations to her charity, The Representation Project, which since 2011, has generated $17,489,680 in revenue.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Phony Budget

If it’s January it must be budget time in California, or so it would seem. Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press briefing to unveil his proposed budget, and it certainly looked official.

Mainstream media have variously reported that the governor’s budget proposal is “austere,” “fiscally responsible,” and even “conservative” as the state tries to close a projected $22.5 billion deficit. But there are things taxpayers should know before breaking out the champagne to celebrate the governor’s handling of what he has called a “modest shortfall.”

A spending problem, not a revenue problem.

The governor’s proposed $297 billion budget is only about 3.6% smaller than last year’s record-setting budget of $308 billion. The state has long spent beyond its means, but it has kicked it into overdrive in recent years. In just the last three years alone, spending has increased by almost $100 billion dollars despite warnings from economists, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, HJTA and many others that the state was spending beyond sustainable revenue levels.

This is not the real budget.

They may call this a budget, but it is just a wish list. It is a way for the governor to signal his priorities to the Legislature as budget negotiations begin, and legislators from the governor’s own party have already been critical of the cuts he is proposing.

We also do not know what the actual dollar amount will be yet. In November, the budget shortfall was estimated to be around $24 billion. The governor now says it is $22.5 billion. We will have a better idea of where the state stands financially when the governor does his “May Revise” of the budget.

That is not the real budget either.

The May Revise is also not the budget, it is just another step in the negotiation process. It gives us a better idea of what the actual numbers are, and the governor will adjust his wish list accordingly, but it is the Legislature that passes the budget, and they have until June 15th to do it.

That is not really the budget either.

While the Legislature will pass a “budget” by June 15th, it also is not really the budget. That is because Proposition 25, entitled the “On-Time Budget Act of 2010,” says legislators forfeit their pay if they do not pass the budget “on time.” The problem with that is, the courts have ruled that it is the Legislature itself that defines what is and is not the budget.

What we will get then is not a true annual spending plan for the state but a 1,000-page sham, drafted largely in secret and full of blanks to be filled in later through hundreds of “budget trailer bills” after substantial provisions of the budget are negotiated behind closed doors among just three people: The two Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Newsom.

On Wednesday, 121 of these budget-related bills were introduced in the state Legislature, completely blank except for a line of placeholder text expressing the “intent” to fill them in later. They are numbered SB 100 through SB 220. You can “read” them for yourself at

Eventually, those budget-related bills will spring to life with new language replacing the placeholder text. Then they sail through the process without hearings, or amendments or debate.

A balanced budget in name only.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

The School Choice Battles Ahead

As we transition into 2023, we can see that the field of education will once again be a contentious one, as too many government-run schools are failing, and parents are not happy. In Chicago, for example, great numbers of students are avoiding their local schools. In fact, more than one-third of the city’s public schools are at least half empty, with high schools the most vacant. Douglas High School has a capacity of 888 students, but only 34 students are enrolled. Manley High School can seat 1,296 students, but just 70 attend. On the k-8 level, the Mason School can accommodate 1,710 kids, but has only 187 enrollees.

With 11% of black and 17% of Hispanic students reading at grade level in Chicago, the above numbers should not come as a surprise. And the funding hawks can’t whine about money as the district has now increased its spending to over $29,000 per student – a 40% jump since 2019.

California isn’t much better than Chicago, where just 34 percent of the state’s 4th graders scored proficient in math on the pre-pandemic 2019 NAEP, placing the state 44th nationwide. The formerly Golden State also has the lowest literacy rate in the country. While that may be due in part to a large immigrant population, other similar states like Texas, Arizona, and Florida have fewer illiterates.

And like Chicago, California can’t use a lack of money as an excuse. Even before the latest barrage of post-pandemic money, California was in the middle of the spending pack nationally, yet way below average in student proficiency. And families are noticing. Between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, public school enrollment in California dropped by more than 175,000 students.

As always, the progressive teachers unions, channeling George Wallace, are standing in the school house door doing their best to stifle educational freedom.

In Chicago, the union is doing what it can to kill the popular Invest in Kids Act, which provides a private school choice for families who are trying to escape their local public school. The Chicago Teachers Union asserts that public funds should be used for public education.

The union is wrong, of course. The Invest in Kids Act is a tax credit scholarship program, which means that it is funded with private pretax dollars.

Unlike Chicago, California has no private option, and the mighty California Teachers Association will do everything in its power to keep the status quo intact.

The CTA website purports to give us “facts, based on research.” But, in reality, their “facts” are cherrypicked. For instance, CTA claims that “Voucher programs are associated with reduced educational outcomes.” The union goes on to site a few outlier studies which support their case, but overall, privatization works. Ty Cobb struck out on occasion also, but looking at the whole, Ty Cobb and school choice have been raving successes. As researcher Greg Forster reports, the latest empirical school choice research finds that of 19 studies, 14 showed positive results and 2 found no difference. (Due to design flaws in the D.C. and Louisiana programs, 3 studies showed negative effects.)

Also, at a speech to the union’s State Council in October, 2021, CTA President E. Toby Boyd proclaimed, “Vouchers Rear Their Ugly Heads: Two school voucher initiatives have been submitted in hopes of qualifying for the November 2022 ballot. Both would use public funds to send students to private and religious schools, taking money and vital resources away from public schools.”

Voters in California had rejected school vouchers twice before, but there was hope of passage this time. Sadly however, neither initiative made it to the ballot.

One of the unions’ most specious arguments is that choice hurts public schools. But as Greg Forster points out, a large body of empirical research finds that “school choice programs improve educational outcomes both for students who use them and students who remain in public schools

Also, a recent study found that in Florida, students attending public schools have higher standardized test scores and lower absenteeism and suspension rates when there is a private option available. The effects are “particularly pronounced for lower-income students, but results are positive for more affluent students as well.”

Union pushback aside, the new year looks promising for school choice. As Corey DeAngelis, senior fellow at the American Federation for Children, explains, “All eyes will be on states with GOP trifectas in 2023, including Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Arizona was able to go all-in with one-seat GOP majorities in each chamber. If Arizona could do it with the slimmest of GOP majorities, all other red states should be able to empower families with universal school choice, too.”

Education freedom was a significant issue in many state legislative races in the recent election, notably Iowa and Texas, where incumbents lost primary elections against candidates who favored expanding school choice programs.

DeAngelis notes that in 2021, “18 states expanded or enacted programs to fund students instead of systems. 2023 is shaping up to be another banner year, especially after the school choice wave in the midterms.” DeAngelis adds that “76% of candidates supported by my organization, the American Federation for Children and its affiliates, won their races in 2022. We also targeted 69 incumbents and took out 40 of them. But don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at the liberal tears in The New Yorker magazine when they lamented that ‘education freedom’ candidates ‘fared depressingly well’ in the midterms. Perhaps we will call 2023 the year of education freedom.”

Worth noting is that in Pennsylvania, new Democratic governor Josh Shapiro has supported the concept of choice, and it is believed that he will get behind Lifeline Scholarships. This program would grant about $7,000 from already-existing education funds to students in low-performing schools to transfer to another school. The money could be used to pay for tuition, tutoring, textbooks, and other education expenses, and students could enroll in a public or private school.

While school board races were a mixed bag in 2022, parents did in fact make great strides in that area. But as important as these races are, what do traditional parents do if they live in a city or town that has a gender-obsessed and/or a CRT-riddled school board? Moving, of course, is an option, but a system of universal choice is clearly preferable.

Click here to read the full article at the California Policy Center

Calif. Legislative Analyst ‘Calls Bull’ on Newsom Budget Projections

Gov. Newsom got a reality check from the Legislative Analyst on Friday

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom presented a $297 billion 2023-2024 budget plan on Tuesday, with a projected deficit of $22.5 billion. He shaved $3 billion off his last budget, in the face of a recession, and the $22.5 billion deficit.

In November, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported California revenue is $41 billion below expectations, likely resulting in a massive $25 billion shortfall in the upcoming 2023-2024 state budget – on the heels of reveling in a $31 billion surplus? How?

“Gavin Newsom (D-Fantasyland) got a reality check from the Legislative Analyst on Friday, when the nonpartisan office called for greater spending cuts and disputed the Governor’s contention that the state won’t face a recession in the coming years,” reads a press statement from the California Assembly Republican Caucus. “Legislative Analyst Calls Bull on Newsom Budget Projections,” the title says.

This is Priceless.

But they are right. The Legislative Analyst’s Office did indeed present a report to the governor recommending other cuts, and offering their solutions to the Legislature if the governor won’t budge.

The LAO identifies these problematic areas with Gov. .Newsom’s budget projections:

  • $14 Billion in Higher Revenues
  • $3 Billion in Higher School and Community College Spending
  • A $4 Billion Set‑Aside in the SFEU. The Governor proposes the Legislature enact a year‑end balance in the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties.
  • $2 Billion in Discretionary Spending
  • $800 Million in Other Differences

Specifically, the Legislative Analyst’s Office is concerned that Gov. Newsom is planning for spending more despite lower revenues. They say it a little differently: “Our estimates suggest that there is a good chance that revenues will be lower than the administration’s projections for the budget window, particularly 2022‑23 and 2023‑24. Nonetheless, the Governor’s budget trigger restoration proposals implicitly place more emphasis on revenue upside—suggesting the administration anticipates that revenues are more likely to be higher, not lower, than their current projections.”

Could Gov. Newsom have a serious case of recession budget denial?

The Legislative Analyst says:

“Recent budgets have allocated or planned tens of billions of dollars for one‑time and temporary spending purposes in 2021‑22, 2022‑23, and 2023‑24. The Governor’s budget identifies one set of recent augmentations to reduce or delay in order to address the budget problem. The Legislature can select entirely different spending solutions. To assist the Legislature in this effort, we have provided a list of large augmentations provided in recent budgets in Appendix 4 and a set of criteria for evaluating them for reduction or delay in “Chapter 2” of this report. The Legislature could apply these criteria through its budget oversight hearings throughout the next few months.”
The LAO’s report describes a “heightened risk of recession” and urges the Legislature to “plan for a larger budget problem by identifying more spending reductions,” the caucus said.

The LAO said:

“As the Legislature works to address the budget problem, we suggest policymakers consider the unique impacts of inflation on each of the state’s major spending programs in conjunction with possible budget solutions. (See our report, The 2023‑24 Budget: Considering Inflation’s Effect on State Programs, for more information.) 
“Meanwhile, economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal say there’s a 61% chance of the economy tipping into recession within the next year,” the caucus said.  
“If the governor and legislative Democrats don’t accept the reality that the economy is in trouble, middle-class Californians will pay the price for their fiscal recklessness,” Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) said.

Here’s one area the LAO lays out as a problem – “new discretionary spending”: “The Governor’s budget also includes $2 billion in discretionary spending proposals that are not currently reflected under current law or policy,” the LAO reports.

“In addition to addressing a budget problem, the Governor’s budget proposes $2 billion in new discretionary spending mainly in capital outlay financing, resources and environment, and other miscellaneous program areas. Because of revenue shortfalls, these new spending amounts contribute to a larger budget problem and necessitate additional budget solutions. That is, for each dollar of new proposals, another dollar of solutions would be required. While the Legislature might share some of these priorities, it need not adopt all, or even any, of the associated proposals. Rejecting them would reduce the budget problem and the number of solutions necessary.”

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher is right, and it is likely to be worse based on the Wall Street Journal survey of economists:

  • Economists expect GDP to stagnate this year, posting growth of just 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared with the fourth quarter of 2022.
  • Employers are expected to cut jobs starting in the second quarter through the end of the year.
  • Economists view high inflation, and the Fed’s efforts to tame it, as a top risk to the economy this year.
  • When asked which category of inflation will be the hardest to tame in 2023, a quarter of economists picked housing. A further 18% said healthcare and another 18% picked personal services.
  • Economists in the survey expect the Fed will need to raise the benchmark federal-funds rate target to 5% this year, in line with central-bank officials’ own projections.

The perfect storm for a recession may be upon us with high inflation, high taxes, high energy costs, high food costs, a sizable budget deficit, and now tens of thousands of big tech layoffs, which is the other issue California lawmakers and governor need to address. Meta, Twitter, Salesforce and now Amazon are all cutting thousands of staff. The potential for, or early economic ramifications to the cities and counties in which they reside, as well as the state, and the ripple effect these could have on startups and investment banks, looks to be immense.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Newsom’s Hollow Ring of Freedom

Following decades of progressive mismanagement, pretty much all California has left is the tattered myth of a once-great state.

On Friday, January 6, under a sky swept blue by days of wind and rain, California governor Gavin Newsom marched with family and supporters to his second inaugural.

Newsom called it “the People’s March.” His press office called it “a celebration of freedom and democracy.” Recalling the iconic 1965 civil-rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the marchers linked arms and walked just shy of one mile across Sacramento’s Tower Bridge and toward the state capitol.

From march to oath of office and inaugural address, the event was painstakingly choreographed to distinguish this great Democratic idealist from Republican governors, or, as Newsom called them, “small men in big offices.” To better control that message, Newsom’s team handpicked the marchers and barred reporters, under the threat, according to one, “that our press passes could be revoked for future events if we disobeyed.”

But — and here’s your metaphor — several blocks short of the marchers’ destination, Newsom clambered into the backseat of an up-armored SUV, which conveyed him the rest of the way to Capitol Park. There, he was ushered onto a beflagged stage from which to celebrate the arrival of the parade he created for himself. When the crowd settled, he took his oath of office and delivered what he likely meant to be a soaring second inaugural.

In that speech, the governor laid out his family’s history in California — 150 years from Cork County, Ireland, to the governor’s office. In California they found that “anything was possible.”

“I hear the echoes of my own family’s story in those who are still coming to California to pursue their dreams, drawn by the myth and magic of this place,” he said.

Myth and magic are about all the state has left. Following decades of progressive mismanagement, people and companies are leaving the state in epic numbers. Just weeks before Newsom’s inauguration, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the state had lost population for the third year in a row. The once-unfathomable exodus has cost the Golden State a congressional seat.

In his speech, Newsom declared that “what makes California special” — what makes it unlike red states — is that “we’re a state of dreamers and doers bound by our live-and-let-live embrace of personal freedom.”

“Red state politicians and the media empire behind them [are] selling regression as progress, oppression as freedom,” Newsom said, delivering what sounded remarkably like Donald Trump’s “American Carnage” speech. “All across the nation, anxiety about social change has awakened long-dormant authoritarian impulses . . . calling into question what America is to become, freer and fairer . . . or reverting to a darker past.”

But “freedom” sounds strange coming from the lips of a governor who still rules under a Covid-era emergency authorization that he promises he’ll surrender before March 1. He used that authority to shut down churches, close beaches, and let local teachers’ unions keep schools locked down longer than anywhere else in America.

As he embarks on his second term, he has unleashed a pack of new laws that expand government power and limit freedom. One Newsom law would punish doctors who spread “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.” His new reparations commission contemplates making $223,000 payments to the descendants of slaves, but Newsom offers nothing to fix a public-education system that his own reparations commission says has failed black kids so badly that it serves as a “school to prison pipeline.” He ratchets up environmental regulations on gasoline; when fuel prices spike, he calls for an investigation into “price-gouging” by the oil industry. He commands us to buy electric cars and then begs us not to charge them for fear we’ll take down the state’s electric grid. He blames water shortages on climate change in a state that, in order to appease environmentalists, hasn’t built a dam, reservoir, or aqueduct in 40 years. Another new law will force hundreds of thousands of fast-food workers into a government-controlled union they didn’t ask for — and will likely lead to job-killing automation and the concentration of fast-food restaurants into fewer and fewer hands.

As you read this, Newsom’s Assembly Bill 5 is destroying 70,000 nonunion trucking firms. Another law will grant sanctuary to transgender kids from other states, even over the objections of their parents. Another new law bans “disruptive” speech in public meetings — a law aimed at frustrated parents who begged the governor to reopen their schools. In order to produce gender equity, there’s a new law that sets prices on consumer goods designed for women. Another requires corporations with at least 15 employees to publish their pay scales. And while taxpayer-funded abortions for everyone might sound like freedom to some, nobody asked the unborn — and if those babies want a voice and a choice, let them get a union.

Everything this state government does comes with the promise to produce social justice and the certainty that life will in fact become more difficult for everyday Californians. We now know, for instance, that a law authored by the United Farm Workers to boost overtime pay for farmworkers has in fact — wait for it — reduced their incomes.

After the oath and before his formal remarks, Newsom seemed to ad-lib about an exchange he’d just had on the Tower Bridge with Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers. “Dolores Huerta leaned over and said, ‘Look, I’ve marched with a lot of people, but Martin Luther King Jr. never walked as fast as you are right now,’” he said with a laugh. “Now I don’t know if that was brag or I don’t know what it was exactly, but it was a hell of a thing to hear from Dolores Huerta when you’re walking across the bridge.”

Click here to read the full article in the National Review

Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Out of Compliance Charity Was Still Soliciting Donations

First Partner solicits state vendors and Governor’s campaign contributors

In August and September 2022, the Globe shared a report by Open the Books, which sued, and then had to file 442 California Public Record Act requests – one with each state agency – in order to obtain California’s line-by-line spending by state agencies. California’s Controller, Betty Yee, rejected their sunshine request for state spending, claiming she “couldn’t locate” any of the nearly 50 million bills she paid in 2019.

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

That’s a $10.6 million investment for a $6.3 billion return.

Open The Books also found “pay to play” vendor contributions going to the first partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who they say solicited state vendors for donations to her charity, The Representation Project, which since 2011, has generated $17,489,680 in revenue.

Here’s what they found:

Major corporations with state contracts or business before the state gave the charity five and six figure gifts. The Sacramento Bee and Washington Post previously identified the companies and today we know just how much those corporations reaped in state agency payments. (23 and Me is the only donor that wasn’t on the state vendor list, however, they had an interest in 2021 state legislation regulating the use of consumer genetic data.)

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

Now Open the Books reports “Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s non-profit, The Representation Project, raises money from a who’s who of governor’s backers and state vendors – despite their charitable registration lapsing with the state.”

The Representation Project fights sexism and “advances gender justice.”

“The nonprofit is currently delinquent with its charitable solicitation registration in California. The annual RRF-1 form necessary to renew the organization’s status as a nonprofit was rejected early in 2022; The Representation Project should have filed a new form and paid a $200 fee in order to regain compliance with state regulations for last year.”

“According to California law, nonprofits cannot solicit funds while delinquent. Nevertheless, TRP solicited and accepted donations throughout the entirety of 2022.”

Notably, Open the Books reports today, “After our work earned national news coverage, The Representation Project quickly scrambled to file their registration paperwork. Their paperwork with the California Attorney General is signed, dated, and received January 12, 2023. A process that normally takes weeks was executed in just hours.”

What is it with so many elected political officials these days? Many not only enrich themselves while holding public office, far too many create fishy non-profit organizations (Clinton Global Initiative, The Bonta California Progress Foundation, The Steinberg Institute…) or NGOs which provide income above their public office paycheck.

In 2021, the Globe reported Governor Gavin Newsom released his 2019 tax returns, showing that he made $1.7 million during his first year as Governor. The First Partner made $151,000 through her non-profit organization The Representation Project, $50,000 through her Girls Club Entertainment production company, and around $1,000 in residuals from previous acting jobs.

However, most of their income was made through the couples numerous trusts and businesses. According to their 2019 returns, the couple made over $1.3 million in income from these passive sources, going up around $500,000 from their 2018 returns.

Click here to read the full article at California Globe

California’s Budget Black Hole: Where Did the $97.5 Billion Surplus Go?

A review of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s State Budgets 2019-2023

In June of 2022, the California legislature passed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $300 billion budget – the largest in state history.

In June 2021, the California Legislature passed Gov. Newsom’s $262.6 billion 2021-2022 budget.

In June 2020, the California Legislature passed Gov. Newsom’s $202.1 billion state budget, confirming state spending for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

In May 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom released his revised budget, highlighting the largest tax revenue windfall in California history. Gov. Newsom’s first budget approved in June of 2019 contained a record number of local pork-barrel projects injected by individual legislators into California’s largest state budget ever (at the time) of $215 billion. California Globe covered in great detail this record making budget.

For context, when Gov. Jerry Brown returned to office eight years earlier in 2011, his first state budget was $98 billion, and increased to $200 billion by 2018 — a 110 percent increase in eight years, with a population increase of just three million.

In just his first five months in office, Gov. Newsom increased the state budget $5 billion – even with a tax revenue windfall.

One year ago in November 2021 the Globe reported, “California will have a $31 billion surplus next year,” according to the 2022-2023 California state budget Fiscal Outlook report compiled by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The tide completely turned in one year.

By November 2022, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported California revenue is $41 billion below expectations, likely resulting in a massive $25 billion shortfall in the 2023-2024 state budget. The LAO recommended lawmakers start cutting the budget as they begin the January session.

The perfect storm for a recession may be upon us with high inflation, high taxes, high energy costs, high food costs, a sizable budget deficit, and now tens of thousands of big tech layoffs, which is the other issue California lawmakers and governor need to address, the Globe reported. Meta, Twitter, Salesforce and Amazon are all cutting thousands of staff. The potential for, or early economic ramifications to the cities and counties in which they reside, as well as the state, and the ripple effect these could have on startups and investment banks, looks to be immense.

Apropos, Gov. Gavin Newsom presented a $297 billion 2023-2024 budget plan on Tuesday, just $3 billion less than last year, but with a projected deficit of $22.5 billion. That’s down from a stunning $97 billion surplus last year. Where did the surplus go?

The 2023-2024 budget is $82 billion more than Newsom’s first budget in 2019, which was $215 billion. And California is is not growing – the state is bleeding businesses and losing hundreds of thousands of residents to other states.

In 2019, State Sen. Jim Nielsen noted that the state budget was flush $21 billion in surplus revenue. “But that’s not enough for some in the majority party,” Nielsen said. “They want more. They want to raise taxes on water, fertilizer, dairy, tires, guns and businesses.” Nielsen asked, “Why does the state need to raise taxes when there’s $21 billion in surplus? They are spending their way into another crushing deficit that will harm the poor, blind and disabled, and squeeze the middle class once again.”

Sen. Nielsen was right – that spending was the pork-barrel projects injected by individual legislators into California’s 2019-20 state budget.

Responses to Gov. Newsom’s 2023-2024 budget

Remember, last year California Democrats spent a historical budget surplus of $97 billion. “California Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday that his state has a record $97.5 billion operating surplus, as high tax rates on its wealthiest residents mean he has more cash to fund liberal priorities such as education and health care,” Bloomberg reported just last May. “That figure surpasses the staggering $38 billion that they had at their disposal during the previous budget season, then considered the biggest.”

How exactly did the governor and State Democrats make a $125 billion swing in revenue in one year from budget surplus to budget deficit?

“Where did that f-ing money go?” one local taxpayer asked me Tuesday as we discussed the budget.

According to Bloomberg, Newsom’s spending plans included:

  • $11.5 billion to every eligible registered vehicle owner, capped at two $400 checks per individual
  • $2.7 billion for emergency rental assistance
  • $2 billion for affordable housing production
  • $1.4 billion for overdue utility bills
  • $933 million for hospital and nursing home staff
  • $750 million for free public transit
  • $125 million to bolster access to reproductive health services

The Globe will research exactly how the surplus was spent.

Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) responded to Gov. Newsom’s 2023-24 state budget proposal:

“Governor Newsom’s budget is a band aid on the damage that his over-taxing, over-regulating, and over-spending has done to California’s families and businesses. His budget continues to push the same policies that have resulted in the highest cost of living, the highest poverty, historically high crime rates and a worsening homeless crisis. Where is the accountability? He has spent $30 billion of our tax dollars on housing affordability proposals, but California still has the most unaffordable housing market in the country. Tens of billions have been spent on homelessness but California has the nation’s highest number of homeless.”

Gov. Newsom says he “prioritized the issues that matter most to Californians — despite declining revenues.” Oh, and he’s “transforming education.” Yikes.

One Twitter follower replied, “Transforming education by what, adding a daycare? Seriously? How about improving math and literacy scores?”

Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Central Valley), Vice Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee said:

“The Governor’s rhetoric does not match reality. Facing a $22 billion deficit, Governor Newsom’s budget continues his misguided habit to overspend with little accountability. Newsom’s budget again fails to adequately build water storage and conveyance infrastructure to store water and move it across the state. And this budget framework perpetuates ill-conceived energy policies that will stifle needed affordable and reliable energy supplies when Californians are demanding relief.”

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) said:

“Democrat politicians have wasted a record surplus on new social programs and pork projects, while allowing our aging infrastructure to crumble. Now we are faced with a $22 billion deficit as a result of their fiscal recklessness. It’s high time we refocus our budget on the core functions of government.”

“As California bounces between flooding and drought, it is abundantly clear that we need new water storage, and yet there is still no dedicated funding this year or next to meet that need. Instead the Governor protects failed programs that haven’t made a dent our state’s highest-in-the-nation poverty rate.”

Senate Budget Vice Chair, Senator Roger Niello (R-Fair Oaks) said:

“California’s assumption of unending higher revenue, combined with overspending on misguided priorities, led the state down the path to the deficit we have today. And this is in contrast to other states that are considering tax rebates at this same time.”

“Republicans fought to fill the Rainy Day Fund, and we applaud today’s commitment to not tap into it. Recent on-going spending by the governor must be re-evaluated. The governor continues to celebrate how much he spends, but California has yet to see the results.

California Senate Minority Caucus Chair, Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach) released this statement prior to Governor Newsom’s budget proposal announcement:

“Drive down the street,” said Senator Nguyen. “Turn on the news. Go to the gas pump. There are harsh realities facing Californians up and down this state. Taxpayers cannot afford more empty promises and failures. We want results.”

Under Gov. Newsom’s watch, homelessness has increased exponentially, crime is historically high, freedoms have been restricted, taxes greatly increased, non citizens receive health care for free, public school kids’ math and literacy scores are in the toilet, the government-created water shortage has gotten worse…

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

A General Is Fired From the Scandal-Plagued California National Guard

In yet another ouster of a top commander for the troubled California National Guard, a brigadier general has been fired after internal inquiries found that he inappropriately used military personnel for personal tasks, had a subordinate complete part of his cybersecurity training and otherwise engaged in conduct that seeded distrust in the ranks.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Magram will be “involuntarily transferred” next week to the U.S. Air Force retired reserve, an action that is “parallel” to a firing, California National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Brandon Hill said Friday.

Magram, who was once director of the Guard’s air staff, is the fifth general to resign, retire or be fired in the wake of scandals exposed by Times investigations of the organization over the last four years.

Most of the allegations against Magram were first disclosed in a Times report in June. Weeks later, the longtime head of the Guard, Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, retired.

In an email to The Times, Hill said an internal disciplinary board substantiated the allegations against Magram, and the general was removed “for cause.” The board’s action came after two separate inquiries into Magram’s conduct by military inspectors general; directives to dismiss him were issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and Baldwin’s successor, Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, the Guard’s acting adjutant general.

Attempts to reach Magram for comment were unsuccessful. Beevers and Newsom did not respond to requests for comment made through spokespersons.

In a memorandum to Magram that The Times obtained this week, Beevers wrote, “Your conduct has caused me to lose faith, trust, and confidence in your ability to continue serving.”

The 20,000-member Guard, a branch of the California Military Department, which is also led by the adjutant general, serves a dual mission that includes responding to emergencies in the state, such as earthquakes, wildfires and civil disturbances, and assisting U.S. armed forces in military operations overseas.

Magram attained the rank of assistant adjutant general and had been part of Baldwin’s inner circle. However, in 2021, Baldwin suspended him with pay and reassigned him after a Times report that Guard members were concerned that their leaders had readied an F-15C fighter jet for a possible mission in which the aircraft would fly low over civilian protesters to frighten and disperse them.

Baldwin denied that the jet had been prepared for such a deployment and said the move against Magram had nothing to do with the report. He said the same about his decision to fire Maj. Gen. Gregory Jones, commander of the air wing of the Guard.

Magram became the focus of more upheaval last summer, when The Times disclosed that an internal probe found that he had on-duty Guard members drive him up to 120 miles round-trip to personal dental and medical appointments at Travis Air Force Base, according to a confidential report on the inquiry. The document quoted one unnamed Guard member as saying he did not want to drive Magram because “my job is to take care of the airmen in the state of California and not be a chauffeur for a general.”

A Guard member who took Magram’s mother shopping was quoted in the report as saying that “she was particular. When I say particular, it had to be at Whole Foods. … It just took her a long time to decide what she wanted, a lot of comparison shopping amongst products.”

Magram had generally confirmed the members’ accounts of running errands for him, according to the report. He said he believed that having subordinates give him rides to medical appointments was consistent with the Air Force’s “wingman concept,” in which Guard members look out for one another.

“I want to reiterate that had I ever heard of any ethics issues like this from subordinates, peers or commanders, or perceptions of such, I would have corrected or addressed it on the spot,” Magram said in a statement to an inspector general.

However, Magram had been counseled in 2017 that tasking Guard members for rides to personal appointments was inappropriate, the report stated, adding that his “wingman” argument “rings hollow.” The investigation similarly faulted him for using an underling to work on his travel awards accounts, including for personal trips.

The inquiry also determined that Magram failed to complete his annual cybersecurity training and thus had lower-ranking Guard members each day request that headquarters temporarily restore his computer access. This went on for about two weeks, until he had the training completed by a subordinate. Magram said in his statement that he was late in completing the training because of “a tremendously busy operational tempo.”

The Air Force initially issued a letter of admonishment to Magram as a result of the first inspector general investigation. After queries by The Times, however, the Guard said a second inquiry had substantiated similar allegations against him, and another round of discipline was pending. That culminated in his firing.

The Guard memo obtained by The Times says Magram on several occasions “wrongfully encouraged or requested subordinates” to perform tasks or run errands for him outside their military duties, such as giving him rides to personal appointments. The document also cites the cybersecurity episode as grounds for dismissing him, stating that he “let a subordinate click through the training questions and obtain a certificate of completion for you.”

The memo further recounts that a 2021 survey of Guard members found that they “experienced significant issues with unit cohesion, good order, and military discipline because of [Magram’s] conduct.”

In early 2019, a Times report disclosed internal complaints of reprisals against whistleblowers and allegations of a cover-up of misconduct among the Guard leadership. The complaints focused on the organization’s Fresno air base and included an incident in which someone urinated in a female Guard member’s boots. Baldwin later removed the commander of the Guard’s air side, Maj. Gen. Clay Garrison. The commander of the 144th Fighter Wing at the Fresno base was also removed.

In 2020, in response to another Times report, Newsom’s office denounced the Guard’s decision to send a military spy plane to suburban El Dorado Hills, where Baldwin lived, to help civilian authorities monitor demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd. Baldwin said the fact that he resided in El Dorado Hills, where the protests were small and peaceful, had no bearing on the deployment of the RC-26B reconnaissance plane.

The Times reported last year that an internal inquiry substantiated allegations that Brig. Gen. David Hawkins made antisemitic and homophobic slurs, including that Jews are unrepentant sinners and that gay marriage is a reason terrorists attack the United States. Hawkins received a letter of reprimand as a result, the Guard said. Responding to a subsequent Times query, the Guard confirmed in June that Hawkins had resigned.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California’s Newsom Launches 2nd Term with Contrast to GOP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom kicked off his second and final term on Friday by contrasting his leadership of the nation’s largest Democratic stronghold with that of Republican leaders he branded as “small men in big offices.”

“California has been freedom’s force multiplier, protecting liberty from a rising tide of oppression taking root in statehouses — weakness, masquerading as strength,” Newsom said as he stood in front of the state Capitol.

Though he didn’t name names, his targets were obvious. Newsom chose Jan. 6 for his inaugural ceremonies to mark the second anniversary of the violent attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol, and he’s spent the past year decrying Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas.

“The ugliness that overflowed on January 6th, 2021, we know this, was in fact decades in the making — fomented by people who have a very different vision of America’s future,” Newsom said.

He delivered his remarks after leading a march with his wife and four children through downtown Sacramento. The sun was finally out after days of relentless winds and rain pounding much of the state.

His second term officially began Monday. The outdoor ceremony followed a series of massive storms that brought heavy rain, snow and intense winds across the state. The deluge prompted Newsom to declare a state of emergency and offered a reminder of the bread-and-butter work of governing the nation’s most populous state.

Newsom began his first term in 2019 with Trump as a clear foil in Washington. With Biden now in the White House, Newsom has pivoted his fire toward fellow governors like DeSantis and Abbott.

He continued to draw that contrast Friday, decrying states that “make it harder to vote and easier to buy illegal guns,” and that “silence speech, fire teachers, kidnap migrants, subjugate women … and even demonize Mickey Mouse.”

Both Newsom and DeSantis are widely seen as future presidential contenders, though perhaps not against each other. Newsom has committed to supporting Biden if the president seeks a second term, as he currently plans to do. DeSantis, meanwhile, has not ruled out a 2024 run — even as Trump seeks a return to the White House.

Their competing visions of governance — including how best to promote “freedom” — showcase the political polarization that’s taken hold across the nation. In his own inaugural address Tuesday, DeSantis touched on national issues like immigration and inflation, and decried “wokeness.”

“They have two starkly different philosophies on how to run a state and that choice will be on the ballot at some point, whether its either one of those two or other folks in their parties,” said Bill Burton, a California political consultant who was a spokesman for former President Barack Obama.

The ongoing drama in Washington that has kept GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Californian, from securing the speakership in the U.S. House also boosts Newsom’s argument that Democrats are better at governing, said Kim Nalder, a professor of political science at the California State University, Sacramento.

“His narrative that he’s trying to create is: Look how much better things could be if Democrats ran the political world,” she said.

Following the speech, Republican lawmakers quickly pointed out the state’s rising homelessness, high energy and gas prices, ongoing water supply struggles and other issues they brand as Newsom failures.

“Now that California is facing a massive budget shortfall, these crises will only get worse unless the governor changes course and focuses on the issues facing our state. Texas and Florida are doing just fine on their own, and welcoming more Californians escaping our problems each day,” Assemblyman James Gallagher, the chamber’s Republican leader, said in a statement.

As Newsom sought to craft California as a beacon for freedom, he also reflected on painful parts of the state’s history, when voters backed measures to limit rights for immigrants and deny gay people the right to marry.

In the end, though, California reversed course with the understanding that “expanding rights is always the right thing to do,” he said.

Newsom begins his second term facing headwinds in the form of a budget deficit, an unmitigated homeless crisis and drought that may persist despite the storms. And he’ll go to battle with the oil industry as he pushes lawmakers to impose fines on company profits.

But Californians have twice reinforced their support for Newsom in the past 15 months: first in a 2021 recall attempt that failed and again last November, when he handily won his second term.

Newsom’s first term was dominated by wildfires, a major utility bankruptcy and the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 Californians, and prompted monthslong shut downs of businesses and schools. But he was also handed a massive budget surplus that allowed him to invest tens of billions in the environment, education, child care and health care.

But he enters his second term with a projected $25 billion budget deficit, which limits what Newsom can spend on and may force budget cuts. He’ll offer his first glimpse at spending priorities next week.

He’s also geared up for a major fight with the oil industry, convincing the Legislature to launch a special session to consider a new fine on oil company profits. Gas prices climbed above $6 per gallon in California, which is well above the national average.

The potential budget deficit in particular may force Newsom to turn more of his attention back home if he hopes to maintain the strong support he’s so far enjoyed, said Sarah Hill, a professor of political science at the California State University, Fullerton, who focuses on state politics.

Click here to read the full article in AP News