Oops: California Backed Labor Unions Over Elon Musk
On May 9th, a Gulliver vs. Lilliputian brawl erupted for no reason. Then I took a close look at a California Assemblywomen’s campaign finances.
When Governor Newsom announced California was open for business, the Fremont Tesla factory remained shut down as tiny Alameda county (which represents Oakland) pulled rank and said, nothin’ doing. In a now-famous tweet, Musk threatened to leave the state. That inspired San Diego’s Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher to throw a roundhouse punch on May 9th that would do justice to a barroom brawler. She essentially told Tesla CEO Elon Musk to “F*ck Off.” It made no sense as she has no Tesla operation in her district, nor any connection to Musk. It turned out to be one of those ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend” things.
Gonzalez represents California’s 80th Assembly District in San Diego, and like any ambitious politician, she doesn’t let a crisis go to waste, a remark often attributed to Obama staff chief, Rahm Emanuel, but comes from Winston Churchill. When she read Musk’s threat, she drew her iPhone, aimed it at the Tesla CEO, and fired: F**k Elon Musk.
What else could Musk say? “Message Received.”
For Gonzalez, this isn’t about health or safety. She is repaying labor union and oil company donors who have funded her and her husband’s political campaigns, and her currency is embarrassing the Tesla CEO for his audacity. Who else would dare create an automotive company that runs on renewable energy and without labor unions? Whether her remark wins plaudits from the anti-business left or she gets a drubbing for fighting above her weight class, her methods will show whether she is deft or tone-deaf.
Gonzalez’s 34,000 Twitter followers are a small militia compared to Musk’s army of 34 million, and therein lies the problem. Although her sights are set on higher office, she needs tens of millions of followers to help drive hundreds of millions in funding to achieve higher office, and it is why Musk is a convenient punching bag. Tag Musk, you tag the world.
The battle now shifts from the calm landscape of Alameda county to the radical climes of California. The state is mired in political corruption as a result of radical elites with money to spare (how else could the USC scandal have happened) and term limits that prevent anyone from taking a long term view. It makes running for elected office a game for the rich and malleable.
The cost of running for a political office in California, according to KQED, means raising over $1,000 per day, and Gonzalez doubles or triples that. For statewide politics, it could be 100 times more. She knows she will have to prove herself to labor union overlords. It is the kind of work she did herself when she served as Secretary-Treasurer for the San Diego Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
The donors’ list, courtesy of VoteSmart, confirms that Gonzalez has run up quite a tab of IOUs: nearly a quarter of a million dollars to Labor, finance, energy, and $134,000 which she lists as “uncoded,” political-speak for none of your business. However, she does have a spending problem, better known as her husband.
“She solicited tens of thousands of dollars in donations to her boyfriend’s fledgling charity.”
As the San Deigo Tribune reported, “California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has accepted campaign contributions and then transferred the money to help her husband, Nathan Fletcher — a candidate for San Diego County Supervisor.” Later, the Tribune confirmed that she coerced donors after her “well-publicized romance, the San Diego assemblywoman solicited tens of thousands of dollars in donations to her (now husband) boyfriend’s fledgling charity.”
So what is Gonzalez’s end game? According to Politico, she was number 35 on a list of 50 people transforming American politics.” Her makeover is about reaching for higher office, as USA Today acknowledged: “She is hoping to become California’s next Secretary of State.” The formula for success in California politics looks like more followers, more money, and attack a big tech CEO for good measure.
As all generals know, wars begin with a plan. It remains to be seen whether hers will work.