Major Gavin Newsom Donor Benefits from California’s $20 Minimum Wage Exemption

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Newsom has received thousands of dollars from billionaire Greg Flynn to help him in his political campaign

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A major donor to the Democratic California Governor. Gavin Newsom will likely benefit from an obscure exemption that allows some of his restaurants to continue to pay lower wages.

Newsom was the one who pushed for this exemption. It allows restaurants that bake and sell bread as a stand-alone item to pay their employees at the current rate, of $16. Bloomberg reported that billionaire Greg Flynn – a frequent donor to the governor – could save hundreds and thousands of dollars per year on each of his Panera Bread franchises in California.

Flynn had previously been involved in Newsom’s business and contributed to his campaigns, according to the report. Bloomberg reported that Flynn’s opposition to the FAST Act (originally including the new regulations) led him to lobby Newsom to exclude Panera Bread from the fast food chains.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom attended an event in Washington, D.C., with other governors, in the East Room at the White House on Friday.

The talks between labor groups, the fast food industry, and the government led to the repeal of the law in the last year. This was the first time the minimum wage had been set higher than $20.

Flynn, according to the report is the biggest franchisee in the U.S. and owns thousands of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Wendy’s restaurants, as well as Panera Bread, Applebee’s, and Panera Bread.

Flynn is a frequent donor to Newsom’s campaigns. Records show that he donated $8,400 to Newsom’s candidacy in 2018 and then came to Newsom’s rescue with other major contributors during his recall election of 2021.

Signage on the outside of a Panera Bread Restaurant

Flynn gave $100,000 in June 2021 to the Stop the Republican Recall Committee of Governor Newsom, making him one of its most prominent individuals, along with billionaires like Reed Hastings, Netflix’s executive chairman, and financier George Soros. The recall effort failed by nearly 24 points.

Flynn then contributed a total of $64,800 towards Newsom’s campaign for 2022. He has also given thousands more dollars to other powerful Democrats, including Attorney General Rob Bonta or Treasurer Fiona Ma.

A spokesperson for Newsom stated, when asked for a comment, that “this legislation was the culmination of countless negotiations with dozens of stakeholders over two years.” During the negotiations, the Governor’s Office met with labor unions and business leaders as well as dozens of franchisees. “No one person or business was able to influence the final result.”

Panera Bread and Flynn’s holding companies were also contacted for comments. Flynn said to Bloomberg that he had no involvement in the formulation of the exemption.