Newsom has failed to make SVB connections public while campaigning for a bailout


President Joe Biden, right, greets California Gov. Gavin Newsom after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport June 8, 2022 to attend the Los Angeles Summit of the Americas.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom reportedly had significant personal ties to Silicon Valley Bank.
  • Reports link Newsom to the bank through personal accounts, three wineries and his wife’s charity.
  • California law prohibits officials from influencing decisions in which they have “a financial interest.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has lobbied the White House and Treasury Department over the upcoming bailout of Silicon Valley Bank, though three of his private wineries appear to have been among the bank’s clients, according to a report by Tuesday’s Intercept’s Ken Klippenstein.

According to Klippenstein’s account, Newsom’s personal relationship with SVB extended beyond the wineries. An anonymous former employee who handled Newsom’s finances told Klippenstein that Newsom had “held personal accounts with SVB for years.”

It’s unclear if those personal accounts were still active at the time of the bank’s collapse last week. If that were the case, Newsom could have benefited directly from the Biden administration’s bailout, which compensates SVB account holders even if their balances exceed the $250,000 limit insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

On Saturday, Newsom’s office issued a statement that Newsom “has been in contact with the highest levels of leadership in the White House and Treasury Department.” He said the goal is to “‘stabilize’ the entire innovation ecosystem that has served as a tent pole for our economy.”

Next day, Newsom praised the administration for “quick and decisive action”. Again, there was no mention of his own ties to the bank. Instead, Newsom expressed his gratitude on behalf of “small businesses who can do payroll now, workers who will get their paychecks” and “nonprofit organizations who can keep their doors open tomorrow.”

Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, happens to be the co-founder of one of these nonprofits, the California Partners Project. SVB reportedly donated $100,000 to this charity. The bank’s former president is listed as one of the board members of the charity. The ties between SVB and California Partners Project were first reported by Open the Books, an Illinois nonprofit that tracks government spending.

The son of a Getty Oil Dynasty attorney, Newsom’s fundraising skills and deep ties to California’s Democrats have put him on the front line of the party’s future presidential nominees. 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 without a mask with a large group of lobbyists at French Laundry, an upscale Napa Valley restaurant where foodies pay more than $300 a plate. He apologized and claimed that the seating was outside.

Newsom has not spoken publicly about his personal connections to the SVB. It’s unclear whether he disclosed them to the White House or the Treasury Department during his contacts with the government over the weekend.

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As an elected official, state law prohibits Newsom from influencing any government decision “in which the official knows or has reason to believe that the official has a financial interest”.

Nathan Click, a spokesman for Newsom, told Insider that Newsom’s “business and financial interests have been 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 Intercept’s reporting Newsom’s SVB ties.

Spokespersons for the White House and California Partners Project did not immediately respond to insiders’ requests for comment.

To update: This story has been updated to reflect Open the Books’ coverage of the relationship between the California Partners Project and SVB.

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