Governor Gavin Newsom named former Stockton Mayor Michael D. Tubbs Special Advisor for Economic Mobility and Opportunity on Thursday. This is a curious appointment. While Tubbs will not receive compensation for this position, it’s clear this is a placeholder position for his future political opportunities.
“Building upon his work to increase economic opportunities for the residents of Stockton, Tubbs will help advance Governor Newsom’s goal of creating a California for all,” Newsom’s press statement says.
“He will serve as an ex-officio member on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, and collect best-practice ideas from a wide variety of external stakeholders, focused on opportunity, economic mobility and fighting poverty. Tubbs will work to build public and political will for policy change – ultimately ensuring that California families will have the opportunity to not just survive but thrive. Tubbs will not be a state employee or compensated for his role.”
“As Mayor of Stockton, Michael Tubbs proved himself as a leader who cares deeply about his community and economic fairness,” said Governor Newsom. “From implementing the first mayor-led guaranteed income pilot to launching the Stockton Scholars program to invest in his city’s youth, Tubbs expanded opportunity and hope in his hometown. I can think of no one more dedicated or better equipped to make recommendations to my team and help lead outreach efforts to increase opportunity and entrepreneurship to reduce poverty in California. I look forward to working with Mayor Tubbs to build a California for all.”
If Gov. Newsom is sincerely concerned with reducing poverty in California, naming the former Stockton Mayor an “economic advisor” is a strange way of showing it.
Tubbs is best known for implementing and championing universal basic income.
Tubbs’ political history in Stockton wasn’t exactly embraced by everyone. Tubbs was 26 when he was elected Mayor, and appeared to be a bright rising star for the troubled city. But by 2018, Stockton residents began an effort to recall Mayor Tubbs. The recall filings said Tubbs “continues to act in a fiscally irresponsible manner,” said homelessness has increased while he’s been in office and claims that he’s “using his position for personal celebrity,” the Bee reported.
In November 2020, Tubbs lost his bid for reelection. “What changed? Some residents resented his national profile, viewing him as more committed to his own reputation than to giving attention to the city,” Bloomberg reported. “Others objected to his progressive policies, choosing instead the candidate who was supported by the local police union and ran on a campaign to reduce homelessness and make government more efficient.”
Several articles claim Tubbs was a victim of a local blog perpetrating a “misinformation campaign.” In what appears to be carefully-orchestrated “news” articles, they mostly said the same thing, implying that he was unfairly targeted.
“Tubbs lost big to Kevin Lincoln, a relatively unknown Black Latino pastor,” NPR reported. “Tubbs blames what he calls a four-year disinformation campaign from a site called the 209Times.”
In a January NPR interview, Motecuzoma Sanchez says he is the creator and CEO of 209Times, the blog that focused on Tubbs.
NPR host Leila Fadel said “Sanchez denies it traffics in misleading, sometimes racist and false information. He calls the 209Times guerilla activism to expose corrupt politicians and disrupt traditional media. Sanchez, a leftist, calls Tubbs a fake progressive that the 209Times actively tried to take down.”
“We do have an agenda, and we do tell everybody what our agenda is. We tell everybody we are biased. We are biased towards the truth,” Sanchez said in the NPR interview. “We’re going to let you know – if this guy is corrupt, we’re going to tell you he’s corrupt.”
“None of the accusations of corruption against Tubbs have proved true,” Fadel said. Sanchez said Tubbs was just the top of the heap of “elected officials that were not a benefit or an asset to the community that have all lost their reelections.”
“209 Times has evidence that Michael Tubbs used public funds to buy alcohol, falsified official government documents, and conspired with his assistant to cover it up,” Sanchez’s 209Times reported. “Stockton is a working class city whose violent crime rates and homelessness have increased since Tubbs became mayor despite him campaigning on those priorities as his platform. 25% of the city lives below the poverty line and its unemployment rate is above state and national averages. Nevertheless Mayor Tubbs, who was arrested for a DUI as a Councilmember and has voted to raise taxes and water rates by 40% on Stockton residents several times, felt it was appropriate to use tax payer funds to wine and dine his friends that include multiple convicted felons and a member of a registered hate group.”
209Times also questioned a consulting business Tubbs launched in 2020 while still Stockton Mayor:
“Official complaints and formal requests have been made for an investigation with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against Mayor Michael Tubbs who filed ‘false and inadequate’ documents hiding his newly formed ‘consultancy’ firm, ‘The Deeper the Roots LLC’ on his Statement of Economic Interests – Form 700 at least twice.”
Both times he failed to disclose his business on “Schedule A-2 Investments”, which is where, according to the FPPC’s online directions, an elected official should list any “business entities, LLC’s, corporations and trusts”. No where in both of his latest five page 700 Form reports does “The Deeper the Roots, LLC” appear.
The first and only statement of information for this LLC was filed 4/15/19 with the California Secretary of State.
This was just one day before his non-profit’s executive director, Lange Luntao, recused himself on 4/16/19 in a SUSD Trustee vote “due to an abundance of caution” and 8 days before Luntao suddenly threw caution to the wind and voted on 4/23/19, in favor of Aspire Charter Schools without allowing public comment first. This vote is now part of the investigation by SUSD for being a possible conflict of interest because of both Luntao’s and Reinvent Stockton Foundation’s multi-layered economic relationship with Aspire.
Taking a page out of former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s dubious playbook with Non-Governmental Organizations and non-profits, 209Times reported that Tubbs’ “incorporated Reinvent Stockton Foundation (RSF) the month after being elected mayor and a month before beginning his term. The RSF administers Stockton Scholars, Advance Peace (Cash for Criminals), and Stockton SEED or “universal basic income experiment”. None of those programs are administered or sanctioned by the government yet Tubbs openly uses his city staff to operate it and help solicit funding for his foundation.”
“An abundance of evidence exists that city staff time, city resources and city office space has been used to enrich Reinvent Stockton Foundation, which Mayor Tubbs has founded and according to their website, still sits on their board as the Chairman.”
“It has recently been further discovered that Reinvent Stockton Foundation paid Aspire $15,000 to help with “college readiness” for the academic year of 2018-2019. Lange’s boss is Mayor Michael Tubbs. Mayor Tubbs’ wife was a ‘college academic counselor’ with Aspire at that same time. According to case law associated with 1090 of the California Government Code, ‘However devious and winding the chain may be which connects the officer with the forbidden contract, if it can be followed and the connection made, the contract is void.’ There is additional case law that specifies elected officials are responsible for the business dealings of their spouses.”
“The Reinvent Stocktown Foundation also runs the Stockton Scholars program, which gives scholarships to college-bound high schoolers,” Bloomberg reported. “The program received a boost with a $20 million donation from Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel’s philanthropic fund. In all, between private donors and government grants, Tubbs has brought in more than $100 million to the city over his four-year term.”
Tubbs has not held a job outside of politics.