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Companies tied to top California officials get federal aid

Businesses tied to California Gov. Gavin Newsom,  Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and two legislative leaders received federal loans aimed at keeping small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: Jul 6, 2020 3:44 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif (AP) — Businesses tied to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and two of the state’s legislative leaders were among those that received federal loans aimed at keeping small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, records released Monday showed.

A Northern California-based winery and hospitality company, PlumpJack, founded and partly owned by Newsom, received a loan worth $150,000 to $350,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Before taking office as governor in 2019, Newsom announced he would step away from his businesses and put his assets in a blind trust managed by a family friend and attorney.

“You would have to ask the people that are running those businesses,” Newsom said in response to a question about why his company applied for the loan.

The trustee of the blind trust and company did not return emails. Federal data shows the loan helped save 14 jobs.

A labor consulting company led by state Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove, a Bakersfield Republican, received a loan within the same dollar range. Grove listed herself as president and CEO of Continental Labor Resources Inc. on most recent state public disclosure forms, reporting that she drew an income of over $100,000. The loan saved 365 jobs at the company, according to data.

A consulting firm founded and run by Jennifer LeSar, the spouse of state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, received a loan in the range of $350,000 to $1 million, helping retain 15 jobs. LeSar Development Consultants counts California cities and housing groups among its clients, working on homelessness and affordable housing policy.

Kounalakis’s husband, Markos Kounalakis, is director of a family-run real estate company in Sacramento that received a loan worth between $350,000 to $1 million. In state public disclosure forms, Kounalakis reported Markos, a longtime foreign affairs news columnist and analyst, as drawing a salary between $10,001 to $100,000 from AKT Investments, Inc., which dubs itself the largest land development company in Northern California.

Under the PPP initiative, the government is backing $659 billion in low-interest business loans that will be forgiven if employers use the money on payroll, rent and similar expenses. Companies typically must have fewer than 500 workers to qualify.

The public may never know the identity of more than 80% of the nearly 5 million beneficiaries to date because the Trump administration has refused to release details on loans under $150,000 received by the vast majority of borrowers.

That secrecy spurred an open-records lawsuit by a group of news organizations, including The Associated Press. Still, the release of the data is the most complete look at the program’s recipients so far.

Records show over 87,000 businesses in California received loans worth $150,000 or more.

Newsom’s company, PlumpJack Management Group, LLC, is part of a portfolio of brands that include a resort hotel near Lake Tahoe, five restaurants and bars, four Napa Valley wineries, a sports retailer and more. His blind is trust managed by Shyla Hendrickson.

Hendrickson did not return emails from the AP about whether Newsom’s businesses received any loans under $150,000.

Newsom developed PlumpJack after he helped found it as a wine and spirits shop in San Francisco in 1992, on the same street the management group is still located.

Financial disclosure forms give an imprecise figure on how much Newsom draws from the five companies making up the PlumpJack portfolio. For 2019, Newsom reported on annual state financial disclosure forms making at least $200,000.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3055568

Reported Deaths: 34441
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles103280614122
San Bernardino2561091560
Riverside2504362645
San Diego2168352109
Orange2148082477
Santa Clara943661109
Kern86718565
Fresno82485968
Sacramento806781111
Alameda67952765
Ventura62101436
San Joaquin58290786
Contra Costa52965450
Stanislaus42882758
Tulare41867506
Monterey36126255
San Mateo32596309
San Francisco29321262
Solano25806106
Imperial25317465
Santa Barbara25083236
Merced24452308
Sonoma24068240
Kings19435145
Placer17380180
San Luis Obispo15929136
Madera13443151
Santa Cruz12298113
Marin11693157
Yolo10620131
Shasta9776122
Butte9474123
El Dorado782644
Sutter775478
Napa760140
Lassen519516
San Benito496343
Yuba495127
Tehama397142
Tuolumne338240
Nevada320673
Mendocino311432
Amador301631
Lake261230
Humboldt239324
Glenn193519
Colusa17339
Calaveras161723
Siskiyou144613
Mono11214
Inyo97429
Del Norte8662
Plumas5895
Modoc3853
Mariposa3464
Trinity3024
Sierra820
Alpine730
Unassigned00
Chico
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Hi: 67° Lo: 36°
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Oroville
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Chico
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Red Bluff
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Hi: 65° Lo: 41°
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Chico
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 48°
As expected, we had much quieter weather around northern California on Wednesday with plenty of sunshine, much weaker wind, and a wide range of temperatures. Thursday will be similar, but much more active weather is coming.
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