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Disposable face masks. (Photo: Amazon.com)

California Globe Files Public Records Request for Governor Newsom’s $1Billion Contract on Masks

Mask deal with Chinese owned company still under wraps

By Katy Grimes, April 23, 2020 3:00 pm

California Globe just filed a California Public Records Request this week with Gov. Gavin Newsom for the contract the governor made with Chinese company BYD for 200 million surgical masks.

The governor and his top officials have been asked by several legislators for access to the contract, but have refused to turn it over.

Gov. Newsom is making the most of his executive authority powers during the coronavirus State of Emergency. Newsom has issued executive orders to make local elections vote-by-mail only; he has ordered the closure of “non-essential” businesses; he has waived the state’s open-meeting laws allowing state agencies to hold remote meetings with no public access; and he had ramped up spending on the state’s homeless. The governor also issued an order to allow court proceedings to be suspended, and provided unheard of powers to California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and he has provided extra sick leave benefits for “essential” food sector workers.

The governor has signed 29 Executive orders since March 4.

One unilateral decision he also made was when he announced on MSNBC that he was spending $1 billion on surgical face masks. Gov. Newsom on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show April 7, said the contract had already been “inked.”

California lawmakers, on recess from the Legislature, bristled. Some demanded hearings, which were convened in the Senate and Assembly.

At both hearings, lawmakers made clear to the Governor’s representatives from the Department of Finance and Office of Emergency Services they should have been kept in the loop more when it came to his spending, California Globe reported.

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 89 March 17th, a coronavirus emergency measure, which gave stunning power to the governor to spend up to $1 billion “for any purpose” related to the COVID-19 crisis. However, Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) said the governor must give notification to the Legislature how the money would be spent ahead of spending, alluding to the many questions surrounding Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $1 Billion purchase of masks from Chinese company BYD.

With the California Public Records Act Request, Attorney Craig Alexander requested on behalf of Katy Grimes and the California Globe documents regarding purchase agreements, payments for and orders for any and all Personal Protective Equipment in the form of protective masks and/or ventilators by the State of California and BYD also known as BYD Auto Co. Ltd. during the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The CPRA request was filed April 21st. State law requires a response within 10 days.

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