BY DARRAGH ROCHE
- California Governor Gavin Newsom's potential ties to Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) have been questioned after reports of donations the bank made to a nonprofit run by his wife.
- Public records show SVB donated $100,000 to Jennifer Siebel Newsom's California Partners Project.
- Open the Books, a group that audits government, drew attention to the links between SVB and Newsom in an article on Monday.
California Governor Gavin Newsom's potential ties to Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) have raised questions following reports about donations the bank made to a nonprofit run by the governor's wife.
Public records available from California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) show that SVB donated $100,000 to Jennifer Siebel Newsom's California Partners Project in the form of payments solicited by the governor.
Renewed focus on those donations comes after SVB, a regional bank based in California's Silicon Valley tech corridor, collapsed on Friday after its customers initiated a run on their deposits.
Open the Books, a group that describes itself as holding government accountable by using "forensic auditing and open records," drew attention to the links between SVB and Newsom in an article posted to Substack on Monday.
The article highlighted "behested donations" totaling $100,000 that SVB made to California Partners Project.
According to FPPC, "an elected official who fundraises or otherwise solicits payments from one individual or organization to be given to another individual or organization may be required to report the payment."
Payments are considered "behested" and subject to reporting requirements if they are at "the request, suggestion, or solicitation of, or made in cooperation, consultation, coordination or concert with the public official" and for a "a legislative, governmental or charitable purpose."
FPPC data shows that SVB made four donations of $25,000 each to California Partners Project and that those donations were solicited by Newsom in 2021.
Newsweek made multiple requests for comment from Governor Newsom's press office via email and phone on Tuesday but received no response by the time of publication.
California Partners Project "champions gender equity across the state and ensures our state's media and technology industries are a force for good in the lives of all children," according to its website.
As Open the Books noted on Monday, California Partners Project supported a gender quota law for corporate boards in California, which was eventually struck down in the courts in May 2022 following a challenge by conservative legal group Judicial Watch.
California Partners Project's board of directors includes John China, who is described on its website as "President of SVB Capital." SVB's website describes China, in part, as "responsible for SVB's funds management business across venture capital (VC), funds of funds and direct funds."
Some Twitter users highlighted the donations made by SVB to California Partners Project and suggested Newsom had questions to answer about his connection to the bank.
"OpenTheBooks.com found that California Governor Gavin Newsom, through a nonprofit organization his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom founded, the California Partners Project, has very close ties to the bank," tweeted Mike Netter, who describes himself as the main proponent of the effort to recall Newsom.
"In 2021, SVB gave $100,000 in corporate gifts to the Newsom nonprofit. These gifts are so intertwined with the Newsoms that they are listed as a matter of California ethics law on a state government website, California Fair Political Practices Commission," Netter added.
Columnist Susan Shelley shared a screenshot from FPPC's website showing the behested payments and tweeted: "I'm not sure what this says about the management team at Silicon Valley Bank or what leverage Gavin Newsom had over them, but the governor raised $100,000 for his wife's nonprofit, the California Partners Project, by 'asking' SVB to donate to it."
Businessman David McCormick, former CEO of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world's largest hedge funds, and a 2022 Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, took aim at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco during an interview on CNBC on Tuesday morning.
He said there was "plenty of blame to go around" and that "management did a terrible job managing the risk."
"The San Francisco Fed has oversight here, and what happened was so obvious," McCormick added.