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Recall Newsom Campaign Reaches 1 Million Signatures, Proponents Say

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Gavin Newsom speaking
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference at the Bloom Energy Sunnyvale campus on March 28, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The official proponents of a campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom from office said Thursday that they’ve collected more than 1 million signatures.

“The people are being heard loud and clear, and it is not a matter of IF we are going to reach our goal necessary that will trigger a recall election of Newsom, it is just when we cross the finish line,” said Orrin Heatlie, a former Yolo County sheriff’s deputy who filed the recall petition, in a statement.

The milestone marks the approximate halfway point toward qualifying the petitions and forcing a recall election, which would potentially take place in late 2021 or early 2022.

The campaign must submit about 1.5 million valid signatures of registered voters to county elections officials by March 17. Proponents hope to present around 2 million raw signatures to account for those rejected during the review process.

Supporters of the recall have been gathering signatures since the summer, but momentum surged late last year.

In November, Newsom was seen dining with a large group at the posh French Laundry restaurant in Napa County, despite his own warnings against mixing households. The outing generated howls of criticism and cries of hypocrisy.

California is also facing its most severe surge of COVID-19, with intensive care capacity stretched thin, many businesses forced to once again close their doors, and a continuation of remote learning in schools, all of which are stoking anger and frustration.

Republican officials in California have begun coalescing behind the recall effort.

Last week, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer tweeted his support for the recall campaign – days before announcing the launch of an exploratory committee to run against Newsom for governor in 2022.

"It’s a new year. We need a new governor,” Faulconer wrote. "Jobs are leaving, homelessness is skyrocketing, and the state can’t even issue unemployment checks to people struggling right now to get by.”


It remains to be seen if the campaign can garner enough financial backing to ramp up signature collection before the deadline. The state’s major Republican donors have yet to buy into the campaign, but GOP operatives have started a direct-mail operation to build support.

The largest donation in support of the recall came from Prov 3:9, LLC, a mysterious Orange County firm bankrolled by entrepreneur John Kruger. The company sent $500,000 to Rescue California, a political action committee led by former state Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro that is sending out a mailer with the recall petition.

Thomas Liu, a representative for Prov 3:9, LLC, said the contribution was spurred by the Newsom administration’s rules governing gatherings of religious congregations during the pandemic.

“Prov 3:9’s mission is Faith-based,” Liu said in a statement. “Both Mr. Kruger and I believe that the Governor’s Executive actions prohibiting religious assembly and worship violated the constitutional rights of Californians to congregate and worship.”

Liu is listed as the firm’s “responsible officer” on campaign filings, and said he was behind the decision to make the contribution.

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Ann Ravel, the former chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said that the agency should investigate whether “Proverbs 3:9, LLC” violated campaign law by not listing Kruger as the source of the funds. Ravel said the firm’s lack of business activity means it cannot qualify for the disclosure exemption enjoyed by business entities.

“When you look at the background of this LLC, it apparently is really not in business to do anything,” Ravel said. “And so it seems, on its face, to have just been a pass-through for this amount of money for a political campaign.”

A spokesman for the commission said it has received Ravel's request and that it could take up to a few weeks to review the complaint.

An important update on the recall progress could arrive in the coming weeks, when the secretary of state's office will release a tally of the number of signatures received and verified by counties as of Jan. 13.

The recall signatures submitted by the campaign would need to be verified by late April. After that would come months of procedural review, setting up a potential recall election in late 2021. However, if the state Legislature votes to move the state's primary from June 2022 to March, the recall could be consolidated with the state's primary election.

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