AP Photo/Evan Vucci
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom reportedly had substantial personal ties to Silicon Valley Bank.
- Reports link Newsom to the bank through personal accounts, three wineries, and his wife’s charity.
- California law bans officials from influencing decisions in which they have “a financial interest.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom lobbied the White House and the Department of the Treasury about the pending bailout of Silicon Valley Bank, even as three of his private wineries had apparently been among the bank’s clients, according to a Tuesday report by Ken Klippenstein of the Intercept.
According to Klippenstein’s reporting, Newsom’s personal relationship with SVB went beyond the wineries. One anonymous former employee who handled Newsom’s finances told Klippenstein that Newsom “maintained personal accounts at SVB for years.”
It is unclear whether those personal accounts were still active at the time of the bank’s collapse last week. If they were, Newsom could have stood to benefit directly from the Biden administration’s rescue package, which will reimburse SVB account holders even if their balances surpass the $250,000 limit insured by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
On Saturday, Newsom’s office issued a statement that Newsom had “been in touch with the highest levels of leadership at the White House and Treasury.” He said the goal was to “stabilize” “the entire innovation ecosystem that has served as a tent pole for our economy.”
The following day, Newsom praised the administration for acting “swiftly and decisively.” Again, there was no mention of his own ties to the bank. Instead, Newsom expressed gratitude on behalf of “small businesses that can now make payroll, workers who will get their paychecks,” and “non-profits that can keep their doors open tomorrow.”
Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, happens to be the co-founder of one of those non-profits, California Partners Project. SVB reportedly donated $100,000 to that charity. The former bank’s president is listed as one of the charity’s board members.
The son of an attorney for the Getty Oil dynasty, Newsom’s fundraising prowess and deep ties to California Democrats have put him in the first tier of the party’s future presidential contenders. But as Newsom’s national profile has grown, his privileged background has emerged as a potential Achilles’ heel with voters. During the pandemic, he was photographed dining maskless with a large group of lobbyists at the French Laundry, an exclusive Napa Valley restaurant where foodies pay upwards of $300 a plate. He apologized, and claimed that the seating was outdoors.
Newsom has not discussed his personal ties to SVB publicly. It is unclear whether he disclosed them to the White House or Treasury during his contacts with the administration over the weekend.
As an elected official, Newsom is prohibited by state law from influencing a governmental decision “in which the official knows or has reason to believe the official has a financial interest.”
Nathan Click, a spokesperson for Newsom, told Insider that Newsom’s “business and financial holdings are held and managed by a blind trust,” and have been since he was elected governor in 2018. Click did not respond to detailed questions about the Intercept’s reporting on Newsom’s SVB ties.
Spokespeople for the White House and California Partners Project did not immediately return Insider’s requests for comment.