California is a bit of a mess. The COVID virus has been weaponized by Gov. Gavin Newsom, and he now faces a devastated economy, record bankruptcies and permanent business closures, a distrustful public, and millions of angry parents whose children are not in school and suffering depression.
On the heels of the announcement that Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary will be leaving the Newsom team to join a potential Biden administration, the Globe has learned that Gov. Newsom will be hiring a lobbyist as his Chief of Staff, ostensibly to help fix his image.
Jim DeBoo, “one of the most sought-after political consultants in Sacramento” according to his website bio, is also said to be a close confidant of lobbyist Jason Kinney, of French Laundry restaurant birthday party fame. Gov. Newsom and his wife joined Kinney at the swanky Napa Valley restaurant in November, violating his own COVID stay-at-home orders, and restaurant restrictions.
In March, Gov. Newsom ordered the state’s 40 million residents to stay-at-home, shut down most businesses, closed schools, killed off sporting events and recreation, and even closed Disneyland, over the original dire predictions of massive COVID-19 cases. That was nine months ago, with intermittent partial re-openings with restrictions, only to be shut down again.
Other governors only shut down early on out of concern over hospital capacity, unsure about the dire predictions. Once it was clear only a few months in that the public health doctors’ predictions were wrong, and that the virus was not nearly as dangerous as originally feared, most states re-opened with ongoing precautionary measures.
However, California’s restrictions continue to drag on indefinitely.
The Globe was told about Newsom’s lobbyist hiring Wednesday by two different political consultants. Thursday morning, Politico weighed in on the news/rumor:
“If Gov. Gavin Newsom was looking for a wartime consigliere, he may just have gotten one.
A particularly perilous political path stretches before the first-term governor. A restive and anxious public is running out of patience with coronavirus lockdowns even as we enter what could be the pandemic’s deadliest phase.” (emphasis Politico)
It’s not unusual for political consultants from both sides of the aisle to move into the Capitol to assist key lawmakers; the proper way is as an employee of the Legislature. Typically, the consultant takes a formal leave-of-absence from his firm, or resigns the post, unless he is the top dog for whom the business is named. DeBoo Communications is one such situation. It is not clear yet what Jim DeBoo’s employment arrangement will be. But many hope it is cleaner than Jason Kinney’s “arrangement” with Gov. Newsom.
Politico, which has been reliably affable to the governor, outlines the difficulties facing Newsom:
“And with the 2022 reelection looming over the horizon, Newsom needs to make tangible progress on California’s homelessness epidemic and its enormous affordable housing shortfall — top-of-mind issues for Californians that Newsom campaigned on in 2018 and made the centerpiece of his 2020 agenda, before the pandemic derailed everything. Newsom’s opponents are sure to highlight those issues to argue he has failed, just as they will seize on any coronavirus missteps.” (emphasis Politico)
Politico even mocks the recall effort, despite news that the governor and his staff are actually a little worried about it now:
“The longshot recall vultures are already circling.”
We imagine that the hiring of Jim DeBoo to a top staff position in the Newsom administration signifies that the governor is concerned – not about what he is doing to California, but for his own political future.
Politico confirms this:
“With so much at stake, knowing the ways of California campaigns and Capitol politics becomes even more imperative — and newly announced senior staffer Jim DeBoo checks both boxes.” (emphasis Politico)
DeBoo has his work cut out, as San Francisco’s ABC7 News now reports that Newsom’s own companies received $3 million in federal relief funds. Eight or nine businesses owned by Newsom’s PlumpJack Group received the $3 million in loans through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Notably, for such a small business, the Newsom companies received a large amount of relief funds, according to Sean Moulton, a senior policy analyst with Project on Government Oversight.
ABC7 listed the Newsom PlumpJack businesses that received federal relief funds:
DeBoo’s lobbying clients include California Medical Association, California Apartment Association, California Dental Association, and the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan.
- Californians Fleeing the State Ranks Among Top 5 Outbound Migration States - November 25, 2021
- Reform CA Files Ethics Complaint Against Lorena Gonzalez Over ‘Employment Negotiations’ as Next Labor Leader - November 24, 2021
- New Report on San Francisco Homelessness Provides Real Policy Solutions - November 23, 2021