SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom solicited donations totaling nearly $227 million from Facebook, Google, Blue Shield and other private California companies and organizations to combat the Coronavirus pandemic and help run parts of his administration, according to a report, Thursday, by the state’s political watchdog agency.
“Behested payments” are contributions solicited by an elected official to be given to another individual or organization. They are less regulated than campaign contributions and grew 10-fold from 2019, Newsom’s first year in office, and 2020, when the pandemic arrived.
Facebook contributed nearly $27 million to the Democratic governor’s causes, mostly for gift cards to nursing home workers. Blue Shield of California gave $20 million toward homeless programs. Those companies were the two top donors, said the Fair Political Practices Commission, which oversees and enforces California’s campaign finance and political ethics laws.
Listed beneficiaries include the governor’s office for $42.5 million and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for $26 million. There was also money supporting California’s Alzheimer’s Task Force, Newsom’s California Climate Action Corps initiatives, a California Climate Day of Action, and consulting services for the administration’s Master Plan for Aging.