Newsom Makes False Claims Aimed at Chiang,
Only Candidate Strong Enough to Compete in November Election
This weekend, Gavin Newsom’s campaign released a new attack ad that makes false and erroneous claims against John Chiang, in an effort to distract voters from Newsom’s own fiscal mismanagement and disastrous leadership as mayor of San Francisco. The ad is just the newest sign that Newsom sees Chiang’s growing momentum as a threat and that Chiang is Newsom’s strongest competition in the November election.
“Gavin Newsom’s desperate attempt to attack John’s record is evidence that John is gaining momentum, and that Gavin is scared to confront his biggest one-on-one threat this November,” said Fabien Levy, Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for John Chiang’s campaign. “These dirty attacks show Gavin lacks the integrity to be governor and can’t be trusted to tell the truth. Whether we’re talking about Gavin Newsom or Antonio Villaraigosa, their records of fiscal mismanagement and reckless decision-making are the same — filled with bloated deficits, fiscal emergencies, and downgraded credit scores.”
As the only person in California history to hold the state’s three elected financial offices, Chiang is the only candidate in the race with a track record of acting fiscally responsible. As the most successful auditor and financial watchdog to ever occupy the role of state controller, Chiang identified over $9.5 billion in waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars over the course of his service. As treasurer, Chiang refinanced California’s state debt and saved Californians over $7 billion. And under Chiang’s financial leadership, Standard and Poor’s upgraded California’s credit rating “to its highest level in 14 years.” Chiang now manages over two trillion dollars in annual banking transactions and oversees the finances of the fifth largest economy in the world.
While Newsom tries to misleadingly attack Chiang’s financial record in the ad and falsely imply that taxpayer dollars were wasted, reports from the controller’s office show that, under Chiang’s leadership, “not one cent of taxpayer dollars was affected.”
In fact, the California state auditor, who initially authored the report mentioned in Newsom’s attack, gave Chiang’s financial statements an “unqualified opinion” — or the highest rating that can be issued — in 2013, and further provided Chiang with the highest ratings possible for all eight years he served as controller.
Additionally, every single Comprehensive Annual Financial Report issued by then-Controller John Chiang was awarded certificates of achievement for “Excellence in Financial Reporting” by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for having “the highest standards in government accounting and financial accounting.”
Meanwhile, when he served as mayor of San Francisco, Newsom mismanaged the city’s finances and created a projected deficit that neared $500 million in 2010/2011, resulting in a downgraded credit score for the city. Newsom continued his fiscal mismanagement throughout his term and left San Francisco with a $380 million deficit when he left office in 2011.
As mayor of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa’s fiscal mismanagement was just as bad, where he infamously let the city’s structural budget deficit grow by hundreds of millions year-after-year, and to almost $600 million in 2010 — leading the city to declare “a state of fiscal emergency,” which resulted in a downgraded credit score for Los Angeles.
Newsom’s ad goes on to attack Chiang’s past votes made as state treasurer, while the truth is the committee in charge of the decisions has made clear that “independent staff” make the decisions on how the awarding of public resources are made through “a transparent process” open to taxpayers, and that it “is not a beauty contest decided subjectively by the treasurer.” In fact, while both Newsom and Villaraigosa have a long history of impropriety and unethical behavior in public office, independent media outlets have written time and again about Chiang’s long history of acting with the utmost integrity as a public servant.
According to the Marin Independent Journal in 2014, “Chiang’s track record in promoting transparency in state and local government is needed in Sacramento.” Earlier that year, the LA Sentinel wrote Chiang “took immediate action to weed out waste, fraud and abuse of public funds and make the State’s finances more transparent and accountable to the public.” In 2013, CalWatchdog wrote, “Chiang’s website, unlike the federal government’s web debacle, is earning universal praise from good government groups, taxpayer advocates and state lawmakers.” And in 2015, the Press Enterprise lauded Chiang’s websites saying, “Transparency is the hallmark of any sound government.”
As state controller, Chiang made government financial data more transparent by launching three open data portals — ByTheNumbers, Government Compensation in California, and Track Prop 30. And, as treasurer, Chiang went even further by launching a website making it easier for taxpayers to hold their state and local government officials accountable for their borrowing decisions.
Levy added, “California just can’t take the risks with either Gavin Newsom or Antonio Villaraigosa. John is the only candidate voters can trust to lead with honesty and integrity, and he is the only one who understands our finances and can manage a budget. If we want to invest in our progressive priorities, we need a leader like John to manage the finances of the world’s fifth largest economy, not someone who couldn’t even manage the finances of their own city.”