As part of his legislative package calling for accountability, transparency and integrity in the state government’s procurement process, Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, recently announced that Senate Bill 1367 failed to pass the Senate Governmental Organization Committee because the majority of Democrats refused to vote on it.
This bill would have addressed the perception of “pay-to-play” contracting decisions stemming from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s penchant for awarding massive contracts to companies that make large donations on his behalf, according to a prepared statement from Wilk’s office. In 2020 alone, more than $220 million in behested payments were made on behalf of Newsom, the statement said.
“Perception is reality. In this instance, there is a perception that no-bid contracts are awarded based on something other than merit,” said Wilk. “I am disappointed that the majority of the committee’s members do not share my concern about the perceived influence of donors in this administration’s procurement of costly no-bid contracts. They just sidelined a golden opportunity to restore the public’s confidence in government contracting.”
SB 1367 would have prohibited the governor from awarding a no-bid contract to a company that had recently made a behested payment on his behalf. Behested payments are requested by elected officials and made by donors to charitable organizations an elected official supports. There is no monetary limit for behested payments, and only donations of $5,000 or more are required to be reported to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, state agencies have entered into nearly $12 billion in no-bid contracts for various pandemic-related goods or services, the statement said.