Lobbying behind California coronavirus contracts can stay secret
“Regardless of the emergency nature of what we’re facing, the public always needs to know that its dollars are being spent in the most efficient manner, that they’re not being overcharged for something,” said Rich Gordon, a former Democratic assemblyman
A common thread runs through at least four of the companies Gov. Gavin Newsom has tapped to help respond to the coronavirus pandemic: a Sacramento lobbyist named Mark Weideman.
His firm represents BYD, an electric bus maker that landed a $1 billion contract to produce medical masks for California; Bloom Energy, which the state is paying $2 million to refurbish ventilators; Blue Shield, the health care behemoth that dominates the task force Newsom assembled to increase testing for COVID-19; and NextGen America, the progressive advocacy group headed by Tom Steyer, whom Newsom named as the co-chair of his economic recovery team.
Those four organizations paid The Weideman Group a combined total of $663,000 last year to lobby before the Legislature and the Newsom administration, according to disclosure reports lobbyists file with the state. The detailed reports show not only that the companies paid Weideman’s firm, but also how much they spent on associated publicity campaigns and which government officials they wined and dined as they lobbied. California law recognizes that such disclosures advance transparency about the influences on state government.
But whether these companies — or any others — paid Weideman or other lobbyists to help them secure government contracts is an unanswered question. That’s because California law, despite all the disclosures it demands from lobbyists, doesn’t require they report procurement work — including the $3 billion committed so far to masks, ventilators and other supplies related to the coronavirus pandemic.
As California has signed hundreds of no-bid procurement contracts over the last two months, the public has very little information about the players involved in landing these deals and how much they are being paid. No lobbyist has been publicly accused of wrongdoing in connection with these contracts. But the way the law is written leaves the public in the dark about who’s influencing how the state spends tax dollars during a pandemic that has killed more than 3,300 Californians.
The normal rules for procurement create a process meant to ensure fair competition and judicious spending of public funds. The state’s request for bids must be publicly advertised with criteria that are not too limiting. Companies submit bids that the state keeps confidential until a specific time. Then, all the bids are opened at once and become public records. The state is supposed to pick the lowest responsible bidder.
But all those rules are scrapped during an official state of emergency, which Newsom declared on March 4 due to the pandemic. As the state has scrambled to secure medical supplies, lawmakers have questioned whether Newsom’s administration is sufficiently vetting contractors and being open about what the contracts entail.
In late March, the state wired $457 million for masks to Blue Flame, a company two political operatives had formed just three days earlier. The state treasurer scrambled to get the money back within hours after bankers involved in the transaction warned that it might be fraudulent. Then Newsom signed a $1 billion contract to buy masks from BYD in April, but refused to make the contract public for a month, arguing that releasing the details could threaten delivery of the masks.
This is a revelation that should worry everyone in the country, not just Californians. The state of California is asking for billions in federal aid and it was obvious from fairly early on that Newsom was giving billion dollar contracts to “renewable energy” groups and other Liberal companies that were big time lobbyists and donors to the DNC.
According to OpenSecrets.org, The company Bloom Energy donated to the Democrat Party far more than they donated to the GOP for the 2020 election cycle. They were clearly given special treatment by the California state government. They had no history of repairing ventilators but Newsom ran to them with this contract and their CEO was so happy to take the free money. Then almost immediately the state of California began saying it was receiving “broken” ventilators that needed to be repaired…
The progressive advocacy group owned by psycho “impeach Trump” and failed presidential candidate Tom Steyer, known as “NextGen America”, was also favored heavily in these contracts and the crazy guy himself was even put on a task force for California! What the hell does a progressive advocacy group know about stopping a virus?
This whole covid shamdemic is a big scam on the American people. A blatantly obvious power grab and socialist wealth redistribution scheme. Already the Democrats have succeeded in hampering our economic growth for an entire financial quarter or more with these extreme shutdown measures. They have caused immeasurable economic damage and put millions into poverty. While at the same time they were funneling money into organizations they favored politically.
This should be a national story but the mainstream media will completely ignore it. Why? Because they can’t hurt Trump with this. Because the people who are guilty are Democrats. Because it doesn’t fit their narrative that Trump has mismanaged the crisis. Because it proves that in fact Democrat leaders are the ones mishandling the crisis and using it for self-profit.
It is absolutely heinous that the Democrats would do this during a time when so many people are hurting and uncertain about their economic future, but I am not surprised at all. The Democrats have a long history of taking advantage of crisis situations to push their extreme agenda.
Anytime there is a mass shooting you see them fundraising and trying to push their extreme anti-gun agenda. Anytime there is a natural disaster they push Climate Change. They are always trying to profit during crisis, even if they have to invent a crisis! It isn’t about the issues for them, it is all about the money and I am totally sick of it!
I think many people are starting to see through the lies of the Democrat Party and waking up to the fact that these people do not want to help they only want to profit from us.