The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in March, with President Donald Trump signing it into law March 27. Many large cities and counties in the U.S. such as San Francisco and Los Angeles received funding directly from the U.S. Treasury Department after the law took effect.
According to Washington, D.C. based advocacy group National Association of Counties (NAC), individual states were responsible for distributing monetary aid to other local governments – including 95 percent of U.S. counties. Only 16 of California’s 58 counties got their money directly from the federal government. Other states followed different disbursement models, the group added.
Gov. Newsom waited until he had signed the state budget on June 29 before permitting disbursement of monetary aid to California’s smaller cities and counties. According to Jesse Melgar, a spokesperson for the governor, counties who wish to receive federal coronavirus funding should first be “in compliance with necessary public health policies and orders.”
H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the California Department of Finance, clarified that the guidelines for sending federal coronavirus aid to counties were not intended to be punitive. Palmer added that the health procedures put into place by Gov. Newsom to fight COVID-19 were “data-based and driven by public health.”
Dennis Townsend, a Tulare County supervisor, said that they have received $16.2 million of the estimated $48.9 million in relief funds for the region. He mentioned that some county officials were considering reopening schools for face-to-face learning, but feared that doing so would threaten further funding.
Townsend, a Republican, remarked that county officials “may be risking millions and millions of dollars” if they decide to reopen. “I don't think that consideration should be hanging over their heads,” he commented.
In May, the governor’s office sent a letter to Tulare County claiming that its push to open almost all businesses in the area without permission from the state could “jeopardize public health and safety” and compromise the county’s eligibility for funding.
Placer County supervisor Kirk Uhler said his county was receiving its payments in monthly installments and was getting fewer dollars per resident compared to larger counties. According to Uhler, who was also a Republican, Gov. Newsom has made it clear that counties who “seek their own path” and not comply with the governor's health guidelines risk not getting their share of coronavirus monetary aid.
Uhler and the four other members of Placer County's board of supervisors voted to unanimously end the local health emergency on Sep. 8, indicating the board's refusal to enforce reopening rules laid down by the state.
Uhler commented that while he remains concerned the county's actions could compromise further aid payments from Gov. Newsom, he defended the reopening as “the right thing to do” since the county is managing its coronavirus cases and the local health system isn't under threat.
On Sep. 11, Republican lawmakers from Calif. penned a letter asking the U.S. Treasury Department to audit how the state is distributing federal coronavirus aid – in an effort to support supervisors whose relief funds were improperly withheld.
The senators wrote that the state’s approach in disbursing federal aid is “creating winners and losers” among counties and may be violating the CARES Act.
Rep. Tom McClintock, one of the letter’s signatories, commented that the county supervisors he talked to were “all scared to death of speaking out” against Gov. Newsom for fear that their coronavirus aid funds will be held up.
In a statement, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that California “continues to defy congressional intent by threatening to withhold critical federal pandemic response funds from smaller localities.”
Treasury Department Inspector General Richard K. Delmar said in an email that he had received the letter and would look at the situation.
In March, Gov. Newsom implemented lockdowns in the name of public health – which hurt the state’s coffers. However, instead of reopening the economy for extra funds, the governor did what Democrats loved doing: Blaming President Trump!
Will the governor blame the president once more if his scheme backfires?
Find out more news about Democrats threatening to withhold federal aid to small counties and other despicable acts at Traitors.news.