by Mayra Franko
FRESNO, Calif. — One non-profit named OpenTheBooks.com says millions in donations to Governor Gavin Newsom's campaign have resulted in billions of dollars worth of contracts.
That information, uncovered after California's government line-by-line spending was made public by the organization after filling almost 450 open records requests.
CEO and Founder Adam Andrzejewski of the organization says it was a 10-year-old battle demanding answers from two California state controllers.
He says they denied requests for line-by-line state spending. On one request , he says they should've provided everything.
He says all other 49 states provided the records, no problem but not California.
So, it decided to sue the state controller.
"We actually lost the case. The judge cited with the controller that it was an undue burden to produce even a single transaction. So, it forced us to plan b," Andrzejewski said.
That plan b was filing a request with every single state agency. It took four months to put together the data.
“This summer, we filed a freedom of information act sunshine request under the California public records act with every single state agency and we compiled the state checkbook like a jigsaw puzzle," he said.
After they connected the pieces, they discovered that campaign donors of Governor Gavin Newsom are getting a lot of money in return.
He says its data showed that the governor "solicited roughly 1000 state vendors for $10.5 million worth of campaign donations, and those companies or affiliated companies received $6.2 billion worth of worth of state payments last year."
To get their findings as they couldn't by the state controller, it compared the donors with their affiliate employers or corporations against the California state vendor list.
It also found out, the top 30 companies currently receiving state payments, donated roughly one-and-a-half million dollars to Newsom's campaign.
Those donors received $5,069,684,836 in state payments.
Andrzejewski says the findings should be concerning while giving just one example of what's happening.
“There are four major health care companies that gave the governor roughly $700,000 worth of campaign donations just last year those four companies received $1.9 billion worth of state vendor payments, so they're entrenched. They're actually funding the established political class, and that makes reform much harder to come by," he said.
He says although those transactions are legal, he doesn't think the citizens in California will find it ethical.
OpenTheBooks.com has created this map that shows Newsom's campaign transactions from 2010 to 2022.
In November, there will be elections for a new state controller.
Andrzejewski plans to request spending records in advance so it doesn't have to file 442 individual state agencies all over again.
He's calling on lawmakers to pass reforms to stop what he calls the 'pay-to-play' practice, which other states have.
For example, in Illinois, those who companies hold state contracts worth more than 50-thousand dollars can't giver the governor a campaign donation.