PaneraGate Update: Legislative Republicans Call on Bonta to Investigate Crooked Minimum-Wage Exemption Deal

SACRAMENTO – Today, Legislative Republicans called on Attorney General Rob Bonta to launch an investigation into allegations of “pay-to-play” politics in the crafting of Assembly Bill 1228. The bill, which increased the minimum wage for fast-food workers by 25%, contains an unjustified carveout that benefits a longtime acquaintance of Governor Gavin Newsom.

The request from Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City), Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones (San Diego) and Assemblyman Joe Patterson (R-Rocklin) comes in the wake of a Bloomberg report that the billionaire owner of two dozen Panera Bread locations in California contributed tens of thousands of dollars to reelect Newsom, who then demanded the carveout. 

Time after time, Newsom shakes down special interests, then uses his office to set them up with favors at the expense of regular Californians,” said Assembly Republican Leader Gallagher. “This type of crooked dealmaking is wrong and exactly why our constituents think the government isn’t looking out for them.” 

Campaign contributions should not buy you exemptions in legislation,” said Senate Minority Leader Jones. “The public deserves to know the truth about the allegations of Governor Newsom’s crony capitalism.”

The appearance that campaign donations influenced an official action impacting the livelihoods of countless Californians is deeply troubling. Legislative Republicans urge Attorney General Rob Bonta to launch a thorough and impartial investigation to determine if there was any quid pro quo or impropriety in the decision-making process.

California restaurants are getting ready to be crushed by this minimum wage hike, but Newsom’s pal is going to come out doing just fine. Something stinks,” said Assemblyman Patterson. “We need an independent look at these allegations to restore Californians’ faith in their government.

The request to Attorney General Bonta is available HERE.