The government watchdog group Judicial Watch recently obtained documents showing that Gov. Gavin Newsom of California paid $1 billion to a Chinese company with a shady record for a contract to buy face masks without getting budget approval from the legislature, Fox News reported.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said, “It would surprise Americans to see how a major Chinese company can so easily access government officials. I would think the California Legislature would be interested in how this happened.”
The documents—mostly emails—show the role lobbyists played in reaching the deal and that California deviated from normal procedures in awarding the contract.
The first contract signed in April 2020 was for $990 million for N95 face masks with a company called Build Your Dreams (BYD).
In July, Newsom signed yet another $316 million contract this time for 400 million masks.
Previous reports reveal that the Democratic governor refused to provide the deal documents to the California Senate and Assembly, whose job it is to review the contract before it is approved.
Phil Ting of the California Assembly Budget Committee said, “We don’t have any information as to how many masks we’re buying, who we’re buying them from, at what price … What are we obligated? For how long are we obligated?”
Senate Budget Committee Chair Holly Mitchell also expressed her displeasure, “Under normal circumstances, the Legislature would have had more time to deliberate an expenditure of this magnitude and would have been allowed to thoroughly vet the details of the contract before proceeding.”
Adding to how Newsom proceeded to approve the contract, BYD also has a history of lawsuits for repeatedly selling defective products to the United States, and furthermore under the Production Defense Bill signed into law by former President Trump, foreign companies were prohibited from selling personal protective equipment (PPE).
According to a Vice report, the city of Los Angeles signed a $330 million contract with BYD to purchase electric buses in 2018.
However, a Los Angeles Times investigation found that the buses were riddled with mechanical failures and stalled on hills.