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California wildfires. (Photo: fire.ca.gov)

How Newsom Makes Funds for Fire Victims Disappear

For many, the 2017 Tubbs Fire is still raging, and the governor and his friends are to blame

By Adina Flores, April 5, 2023 11:01 am

Tens of thousands of California fire victims still await compensation for their losses, and struggle to rebuild their homes as settlement money appears to be scarce.  The distribution of local funds has been held up, and locals want to know why it is taking so long and if this delay ties back to California Governor Gavin Newsom and political friends.

As referenced in recent Globe articles, Governor Newsom’s ties within the County of Sonoma are deeply rooted. Following the tragic Tubbs Fire in 2017, a Sonoma County based “nonprofit,” Rebuild North Bay, was founded by Darius Anderson. As indicated in the articles of incorporation for this 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, the premise was to support economic recovery and workforce development. But rather than supporting the initial mission and vision proposed, the organization spent approximately $2 million to lobby for PG&E in Washington D.C. alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. According to the Pacific Sun, “the day after Christmas 2017, PG&E cut Rebuild North Bay a check for $2 million; the utility’s largesse accounted for 75 percent of the foundation’s contributions in the ensuing months.” Per the IRS’ regulations, “in general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying).”

Rebuild North Bay’s Founder Darius Anderson, is a close colleague of Governor Newsom, owner of Platinum Advisors, “California’s premier government relations and lobbying firm,” and owner of Sonoma Media Investments, the parent company of the Press Democrat, Sonoma County Gazette, Sonoma Index-Tribune, North Bay Business Journal.

Sonoma County residents have reason to wonder why there was previously little mention of this matter in the media. This is because Mr. Anderson’s lobbying firm, Platinum Advisors, is working concurrently with the media, local, state and federal governments to control the Democrat narrative, as figureheads for Governor Newsom.

The roster of Board Members and staff for Rebuild North Bay is concerning. For instance, Darius Anderson initially appointed Elizabeth Gore, first Resident Entrepreneur of the United Nations, as President of the nonprofit. You may recall that Ms. Gore’s name was published recently in a Globe article, as she is co-founder and President/CEO of First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s California Partners Project. Ms. Gore is also the Founder of Hello Alice, an organization which offers minority grant assistance and has been previously funded by former Board Member John China, President of Silicon Valley Bank. Her spouse, James Gore is a former Obama appointee as Assistant Chief to the USDA who has recently been under scrutiny by the Fair Political Practices Commission over ongoing financial omissions.

Rebuild North Bay appears to have recently launched a new initiative titled “After the Fire USA LLC” which was incorporated with the California Secretary of State in January 2023. According to Rebuild North Bay’s website, “After the Fire USA is the most trusted, effective and transformative organization for wildfire recovery and resiliency in the American West. Rebuild NorthBay Foundation is our partner non-profit 501c3 organization that oversees our wildland management programs and provides support for wildfire communities to connect, convene, and share best practices. We collaborate with public officials (regional, state and federal), private sector, nonprofit community, and most importantly, we connect friends and neighbors who have lost everything but possess a resilient community spirit.” Although Jennifer Gray Thompson of Sonoma, CA is listed as the registered agent with the California Secretary of State database, we were unable to locate records of a fictitious business name filing for After the Fire USA within the County of Sonoma. Ms. Thompson is the former District Aide to Susan Gorin, current District 1 Board Supervisor for the County of Sonoma.

The Globe sent Ms. Gray Thompson an email asking:

“could you kindly provide me with copies of the FBN filing and business license for your organization?”

Ms. Gray Thompson emailed back with:

You can find these documents on our website at the bottom of the home page.

I assume you are requesting compliance and EIN assignment. After the Fire is an initiative of RNBF, as also disclosed publicly.

The Globe replied and asked:

I see that After the Fire USA was registered with the state as its own LLC in January 2023. Could you please advise?

Ms. Gray Thompson replied:

Absolutely. Long-term recovery is a very difficult space to fund. Most philanthropy $$$ is focused solely on the immediate weeks post-disaster, perhaps up to a year. But recovery takes many years — SoCo is highly unusual to be basically rebuilt from 2017 within 5 years. Almost never happens, especially in rural and under-resourced communities. They start with less, they get less, they are slower to recover and rebuild. It’s is not a matter of smarts or luck — wealthier communities get more because they already have more. It is access, institutional knowledge, capacity, social + economic challenges pre-disaster. Rural communities are incredibly important to us, like Lake County and Plumas County and Marion County (Oregon). The inequities are very frustrating to witness. Most donor and philanthropic dollars move on quickly, so a big part of my job is education on the complexities of recovering from a megafire. A bigger part is continuing to help communities years after the event — and I ask them to help newly affected communities.
We also coach communities for years and this cost money, but we’ve never charged a dollar. We connect community leaders with peers, resources, etc. We convene.
One avenue of possible is an economic engine, but we have nothing in it yet — I just reserved the option. It can be merchandise, but that would not be enough. We have to transition our model to survive and continue to do our work. Right now, I am working on how to create that opportunity and we don’t have a plan or a product. It is likely I will become a private consultant (not under this filing) and self-fund After the Fire’s community-to-community work because I love it, I believe in it, and I know it works. I have never worked in the private sector as a professional, so I am on a learning curve.

Ms. Thompson included a link to an article at Philanthropy.com and to a podcast.

The Partnerships working with Rebuild North Bay also stand out. Ironically, the organization is directly partnered with the USDA, Mr. Gore’s former employer in Washington D.C. While connections are made from previous work experiences, another donor, the Ashbritt Foundation, is the philanthropic arm of the AshBritt organization. According to the Pacific Sun, “two contracting companies that cleared fire debris in the North Bay last year have been defrauding the federal government on contracts across the country since at least 2015” as indicated in a lawsuit. “AshBritt Environmental, one of the two companies named in the suit, recently hired local media magnate Darius Anderson to lobby for its interests in Sacramento.”

“The federal government’s 2017 North Bay cleanup cost an average of $280,000 per house compared with $77,000 during the state-managed 2015 Valley fire cleanup, according to ananalysis by KQED,” the Pacific Sun continued. “AshBritt invoiced the Army Corps for $320 million for its work in California from October 2017 through June of 2018, according to federal records.”

Following the 2019 Kincade Fire, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (“PG&E”) entered into a Stipulated Judgment to resolve pending criminal and civil charges as declared by the Honorable Patrick Broderick. The funding recipients as directed by Judge Broderick and the County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors once again incite skepticism. An allocation of $500k was given to the charitable organization Nuestra Comunidad for outreach on disaster preparedness. Nuestra Comunidad only has an Executive Director, Alma Bowen and Treasurer, Darnell Bowen who are husband and wife. The IRS requires that public charities have at least 51% of the voting members of the board of directors be unrelated. The IRS also requires a minimum of three board members. The organization’s own Bylaws state “the authorized number of directors of the Corporation (“Directors”) shall be not less than 3 or more than 5; the exact authorized number to be fixed, within these limits, by resolution of the Board”. Therefore, the organization is in violation of their own Bylaws and federal law.

Interestingly, Mr. Darnell Bowen is also the Controller for Hello Alice, Elizabeth Gore’s company. According to this 2020 article published by the Sonoma Index-Tribune, Judge Broderick is an immediate relative of the late Earl Broderick, President and CEO of Broderick General Engineering, which has directly contracted with the County of Sonoma for many years. One could inquire how Judge Broderick may remain neutral within litigation matters directly involving the County. The circle of conflicts of interests raise questions of intent and quite possibly malfeasance rather than coincidence.

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13 thoughts on “How Newsom Makes Funds for Fire Victims Disappear

  1. Oh, what a tangled, incestuous, and stinky web they weave when first they practice to deceive.
    Thank you, Adina Flores, for your fine work. Amazing the networks and names and connections you have uncovered in just this one icky slimy corner.

  2. Great article, thank you. I only hope these real victims receive what they are entitled. Newsom is as lower than pond scum with smegma.

    1. Ooh, that’s a good one, Stacy. Haven’t heard that word for awhile, ha ha.
      Liked seeing your comment elsewhere, “God Bless our country.”
      It lifted my flagging spirits first thing in the morning. 🙂

  3. Adina Flores’ deep research in all of Sonoma County’s Political ties and corruption has been a real eye-opener to the North Bay Community. Many of us have been following Adina Flores for the past year on social media, as well as joining her at County Board meetings. The CORRUPTION goes deep and her TRUTH SEEKING is why she is liked by many! We all seek truth and light! Adina does a great job at bringing the cockroaches out of darkness!!!

  4. Wow… I guess “interlocking directorates” is a term that California governance is unfamiliar with…
    For those unfamiliar with the term, here’s a definition :
    “While they generally are legal, interlocking directorates between competing corporations (or governmental agencies/NGO’s) are prohibited under the US antitrust laws, due to their potential to result in anticompetitive effects, such as allowing competitors to coordinate business decisions and exchange competitively sensitive information.”
    Any similarities to the bowl-of-spaghetti relationships described in this article???

    1. As you noted, in CA (and elsewhere) they’ve made a lot of this LEGAL. Still, an ambitious federal prosecutor might have success taking it on, as a commenter, whose moniker I unfortunately can’t remember, here at The Globe once observed. (Maybe it was you who said it, CD9.)

  5. I live just outside of Paradise, CA, which burned to the ground due to PG&E’s fire in 2018. 5 years later many of the survivors are waiting to get paid. Waiting and waiting and waiting… My opinion is that PG&E are waiting for them to die.

    1. Sherry Gee, I think you’re right.
      I wish the whole country could see this ABC10 special investigation from 2020 about the dirty business of PG&E and ITS web of deceit and the Gavin Newsom connection and whitewash and the whole sickening, unacceptable, corrupt mess. Especially before Newsom gets out there in earnest on his Honest-Not-Running-for-Prez Red State Tour tsk-tsking them alll about how ‘unenlightened’ they are compared to California.
      “FIRE-POWER-MONEY” – ABC10 Originals

  6. yes instead of helping fire victims he’s worried about appropriations for black people that were never slaves for people never owned slaves. he’s worried about 31 billion for illegal aliens. he’s worried about insider trading for gas aunt. he’s off running his mouth about de santis. he needs to be gone

  7. So Newsom is laundering recover funds to his crony lobbyists. At one time we actually had an FBI that chased criminals rather than parents who didn’t want their children’s sex changed. Remember shrimp scam?

  8. Dems want to give illegal alien seniors up to $3000.00 a month! Look it up. We should all be furious!

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