[Y]es, I know that the birthday boy, Jason Kinney, 50, and the governor, 53, go way back. Kinney is a longtime political operative who bounces back and forth between government, political campaigns (he was the spokesman for 2016’s Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis for recreational use in California) and lobbying. That’s the way California’s unsavory political revolving door works.
But it’s Kinney’s role as a lobbyist that sounds alarms. For people in his job, it’s important to show the world you’ve got the governor’s ear. Doing so can help bring in business from companies eager — or desperate — to get the governor’s attention.
Thanks to Politico we know, for example, that Kinney’s lobbying firm represents several small amusement park operators who have been pushing the governor to let them reopen their rides. (They were allowed to briefly reopen before COVID-19 cases spiked and the restrictions were reinstated.) His firm’s biggest client is Marathon Petroleum, which, according to Politico, “is a member of a powerful oil industry organization that battled proposals to ban hydraulic fracturing.” In September, Newsom made what some think was a halfhearted call to ban fracking in the state.
“The buzz this weekend among lobbyists,” wrote Politico, “was how Kinney couldn’t have asked for better advertising of his close ties to Newsom.”
So, for anyone keeping score, a governor violating pandemic restrictions to attend a birthday dinner for a lobbyist may be a terrible look for the governor, but it’s a brilliant business move by the lobbyist. Was Newsom played? I guess it depends on who squealed to the Chronicle about the party.
Bond villain, Democratic Party politician — not much difference these days.
Speaking of which: Here We Go Again: Los Angeles Enacting Curfew, Other Restrictions.