Recently, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) faced a bank run and collapsed, leading to the discovery that the bank donated $100,000 to a nonprofit founded by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, according to auditors at Open the Books, a nonprofit dedicated to transparency in government spending.
SVB contributed the money in 2021 in the form of a “behested” corporate gift to California Partners Project (CPP), indicating that the donation was given “at the request, suggestion, or solicitation of, or made in cooperation, consultation, coordination or concert with the public official” – in this case, Newsom himself. The payment was made in four installments of $25,000, with three of them described as a “General grant to support gender equity in corporate governance,” referring to CPP’s mission of promoting “gender equity across the state.”
The president of the investment banking arm of SVB, John China, is a founding board member of the Newsom nonprofit and is listed as a director on the CPP website. Additionally, Elizabeth Gore, the CPP’s first board chair, was connected to SVB. Her company, Hello Alice, received funding from SVB, and China serves on the board of Hello Alice, reported Daily Caller.
SVB deleted its Twitter account on March 13, but in December 2021, the company promoted CPP’s report on corporate board gender quotas from its account, according to a screenshot by Open the Books. Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of Open the Books, said that none of this absolves SVB of its responsibility to manage risk and protect depositors. Simply deleting social media posts won’t cover up the fact that SVB’s mission and values were at odds with its duties to investors and regular people who entrusted them with their hard-earned assets.
For a requested comment from Newsom, CPP, Gore, China, and SVB, none of them has responded yet. Gore did tell Open the Books that she served as board chairman for two years before a new board chair was appointed and that she volunteered for the position. She also stated that she does not work with Siebel Newsom today.
Photo: Gage Skidmore
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