SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife made $1.7 million in 2019 during his first year as governor, about half a million dollars more than they earned the year before, according to tax returns his campaign released Monday.
The Newsoms paid roughly $712,000 in federal and state taxes. Their income gain came primarily from Newsom’s winery and restaurant businesses that he put in a blind trust when he became governor. The returns don’t name each individual business, making it impossible to know which ones gained and lost money. The returns show the Newsoms gave about $100,000 to charity, four times what they gave the year before, or about 6% of their income.
Newsom, a Democrat facing a likely recall election later this year, pledged to release his tax returns every year when he was elected in 2018. His competitors may be forced to release their returns too under a law Newsom signed in 2019 requiring candidates for governor to publicly disclose their last five years of returns, though it’s not clear how the law applies to a recall.
The Newsoms typically get an extension and file their returns in October, campaign spokesman Nathan Click said. That means they have not yet filed their 2020 returns, which would show how the family fared financially during the pandemic, when Newsom’s administration set rules that shut down businesses and put significant restrictions on restaurants and wineries.
Passive Sources Made Additional $1.3 Million for the Newsom’s
Newsom made $175,000 as governor, up from his $151,000 salary as lieutenant governor, the job he held for eight years. Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker, made about $151,000 through her nonprofit, The Representation Project, which explores gender representation in the media. She also earned roughly $50,000 through her production company, Girls Club Entertainment, and more than $1,000 in residual payments from previous acting jobs.
But most of the couple’s income — an additional $1.3 million — came through passive sources, compared to $775,000 in 2018. Newsom owns The PlumpJack Group, which includes a suite of wineries and restaurants now run by his sister and cousin. He put them in a blind trust run by a family friend after he was elected, and the names of the individual holdings are shielded on the tax returns. The couple has several other trusts and businesses.
Newsom additionally made $39,000 after expenses for a children’s book he is writing about dyslexia, a condition he’s had since childhood that can make it harder to read. The Newsoms made $146 in gross income from other countries through Siebel Newsom’s blind trust, though the returns show they did not have financial accounts or trusts in foreign countries.
The couple has four young children, and in 2019 the family moved into a home in a Sacramento suburb. They rented out their prior Marin County home for $140,000, the returns show, but reported a nearly $250,000 loss on the property. The Newsoms put the home up for sale for almost $6 million in 2019 but are still renting it, Click said. Newsom made $79,000 on the sale of a Napa property he co-owned with his sister and father. They earned $3,000 on a property in Hawaii.
They paid $288,000 in wages to employees at their home, but Click did not comment on how many people the family employs. They paid more than $69,000 in “household employment taxes.”
Unclear How Tax Return Release Law Applies to Recall
Newsom’s campaign gave reporters about one hour to look through the tax returns on Monday, and reporters could not take photographs. The 2019 law requiring candidates to release their returns says the secretary of state must post redacted versions of the returns online for the public to see. Candidates must submit their returns at least 98 days prior to a primary.
In a recall election, there is no primary and Newsom is technically not a candidate. The secretary of state’s office did not respond to questions Monday about how it planned to apply the law to a recall.
An election date has not yet been set. If the recall moves forward as expected, voters will be asked two questions: Should Newsom be removed from office, and if so, who should replace him? He cannot be a candidate listed on the second question.
Most of his Republican rivals’ campaigns immediately answered questions about when they would release returns.
Anthony Ramirez, a spokesman for businessman John Cox, said the campaign has been reviewing the requirements under the new law. Cox ran against Newsom in 2018 and only released partial returns.
Celebrity Caitlyn Jenner’s campaign said the campaign will comply with any requirements for the election.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s spokesman John Burke said he would “fulfill every legal requirement for his candidacy.”
Former Congressman Doug Ose said he would release his returns, according to the Los Angeles Times.