Back in March, as CalMatters noted, California legislators “made $500 million available immediately and allowed [Governor Gavin] Newsom to spend up to $1 billion total,” and passed unanimously two bills “waiving a requirement that legislation must be in print for three days before lawmakers can act.” Legislators also suspended public hearings for at least a month and floor votes for at least a month, all in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are placing an extraordinary degree of trust in Gov. Gavin Newsom,” explained Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, a Republican from Southern California. The governor took full advantage and began acting like the autocrat of an independent nation. In that cause, he invoked the support of former Governor Gray Davis.

“Being the governor of California can be a big asset, not only in developing relationships with other countries that can help provide needed medical equipment, but also dealing with the president or vice president,” said Davis, who famously lost a recall election in 2003. This has opened up for Newsom “all kinds of relationships for development for trade, for helping one another out,” particularly given that China “sees this as an opportunity to be a positive actor on the world stage.”

For his part, Newsom was coming to China’s aid.

In an April 7 MSNBC appearance with Rachel Maddow, Newsom announced a deal for “upwards of 200 million masks on a monthly basis,” from “a manufacturer here in the state of California.” With 200 million masks a month, Newsom was “confident we can supply the needs of the state of California, potentially the needs of other western states.” Newsom struck a $1 billion deal with the company, which wasn’t exactly “here in the state of California.”

The manufacturer was BYD, “Build Your Dreams,” a Chinese company not known for making personal protective equipment (PPE). BYD has “glaring red flags on its record, including a history of supplying allegedly faulty products to the U.S., ties to the Chinese military and Communist Party, and possible links to forced labor,” according to Daniel Newhauser and Keegan Hamilton of Vice News.

Incredibly enough, the federal Food and Drug Administration gave BYD emergency approval, even though the electric vehicle company has no history of making personal protective equipment. BYD has been prohibited by law from bidding for some federal contracts and is involved in lawsuits with several states. None of that was an obstacle for California’s governor.

Newsom wasn’t revealing details of the $1 billion deal, which, as John Myers of the Los Angeles Times noted, “will cost taxpayers 30 percent more than the governor’s January budget allotted for infectious diseases for the whole fiscal year.” Katy Grimes of the conservative California Globe wondered, “Why does California need 200 million masks a month, especially with the illness trends dropping?”

Some Democrats also had problems with the deal. San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, told reporters, “We don’t have any information as to how many masks we’re buying, who we’re buying them from, at what price. What are we obligated? For how long are we obligated?” Los Angeles Democrat Holly Mitchell, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, fired off an official letter demanding details. Newsom wasn’t talking, so a reliable Democratic Party mouthpiece stepped up the game.

“Perhaps it’s time for legislative leaders to dust off their rarely-used subpoena power,” the Sacramento Bee editorialized on April 22. The administration feared that “Trump might steal California’s equipment,” but that did not justify Newsom’s decision “to hide a taxpayer-funded contract from legislative leaders.” Neither did Newsom account for “other reasons why the administration may wish to shield the contract from oversight.”

According to Fox News, the first installment of $495 million to BYD has already been paid, but Newsom is still playing it close to the vest.

On April 21, the California Globe filed a California Public Records Request for details of Newsom’s $1 billion deal for 200 million masks a month, in a state with 40 million people. California law requires a response within 10 days, but other realities are already apparent.

Since March 4, Katy Grimes reports, Newsom has signed—count ’em—29 executive orders, including one to make local elections vote-by-mail only. Newsom has shut down businesses he deems “nonessential,” and suspended court proceedings. The California economy is in freefall but Newsom wants $75 million in taxpayer funds for foreign nationals living in the state illegally.

The millions of illegals in California, automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license (even though that “isn’t supposed to happen”), now serve as the Democrats’ imported Electoral College. Democrats give illegals protection through sanctuary laws and in return the illegals vote for Democrats. Newsom may be thinking that voting by illegals, voting by mail, and ballot harvesting will enhance his chances for a run at the presidency in 2024.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Democrat already thinks he runs a country. If embattled Californians thought Gavin Newsom was acting like a dictator it would be hard to blame them.

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About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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