(thepostmillennial)California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom rewarded lucrative state contracts to businesses and individuals who made donations to help with coronavirus at Newsom’s request.
These requests are known as ‘behested payments,’ a unique feature in California politics. According to California State law, a behested payment is defined as a donation to a government program or charity made “at the request, suggestion, or solicitation of, or made in cooperation, consultation, coordination or concert” with a public official.
Behested payments in the state of California hit a record-high last year in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, with many healthcare companies benefiting from their donations. Behested payments “were a record-setting haul eclipsing all prior donations on record by nearly $100 million,” Reason reported.
“While most donations supported COVID-19 relief efforts, a closer look suggests Newsom’s fundraising was supercharged not just by the pandemic, but also by the broad emergency powers the Democratic governor has assumed because of it,” the outlet stated.
One healthcare company that benefitted from these payments is Blue Shield of California, where Governor Newsom awarded the group and Kaiser Permanente with a state contract to manage vaccine distribution.
These companies were rewarded after Governor Newsom raised $45 million last year, mostly from their donations, toward his housing initiative Project Homekey.
After these substantial donations, Governor Newsom appointed Paul Markovich, Blue Shield’s CEO, to co-chair the governor’s COVID-19 testing task force. “That decision has raised eyebrows as the governor’s office has remained silent about the particulars of the deal, including why his administration selected Blue Shield and how much the company would be paid,” Reason reported.
“The growth in behested payments has tracked closely with the centralization of political power during the pandemic. While Newsom raised $226 million in 2020, he only raised $12 million the year before. That spike is unique to Newsom. Behested payments to state legislators and other officials were down in 2020. Even if you exclude payments that explicitly mention COVID-19 and related programs, such as Project Homekey, Newsom still raised $8 million more than he did in 2019, a nearly 70 percent increase,” the outlet added.
Behested payments have been at the height of controversy in the state of California, with the Los Angeles City Council implementing measures to ban them in years past.