Newsom Publicly Backs Israel. His Private Fundraising Tells a Different Story.

Newsom raised more than $1 million for Tides Center, the fiscal sponsor of group pushing high school 'Walkouts for Gaza'

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (Getty Images)
October 20, 2023

California governor Gavin Newsom (D.) has publicly backed Israel since Hamas’s terror attack earlier this month, even announcing a surprise pit-stop in Israel to offer his state’s support. But privately, he has raised funds for the primary backer of a group that organized anti-Semitic and anti-Israel protests at California high schools.

More than 1,700 California Bay Area teens walked out of class on Wednesday, calling for the eradication of Israel with chants like, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." The protests were planned by the San Francisco-based Arab Resources and Organizing Center (AROC), a fiscally sponsored project of the progressive Tides Center, for which Newsom has raised more than $1 million from his donors.

Newsom on Oct. 7 condemned the terrorist attacks on Israel and declared that "California stands with Israel" as anti-Semitic protests erupted around the state. Yet the fiscal ties between this left-wing funding operation supported by California’s governor and AROC highlight how deeply anti-Israel activism has pervaded progressive institutions. AROC stated after the Hamas attacks that it holds Israel "entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

The Tides Center is part of a vast Democratic financial network that includes the Tides Foundation and receives generous support from George Soros. Headquartered in San Francisco, Tides backs progressive causes and candidates through grant-making, fiscal sponsorships, and political advocacy. AROC is "incubated" at the Tides Center, which manages legal and financial red-tape for its sponsored projects so their leaders can focus on their mission.

Newsom has raised more than $1 million for the Tides Center from the Emerson Collective—the progressive funding operation of Laurene Powell Jobs, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’s widow. At the governor’s request, the Emerson Collective paid $1 million to the Tides Center in June 2021 and an additional $30,000 in July, according to campaign finance records.

A representative for Newsom did not respond to a request for comment.

These donations represent just one aspect of Newsom’s years-long financial relationship with Tides. Earlier this year, the governor raised $350,000 from the Tides Foundation for the Edible Schoolyard Project, a nonprofit that the governor supports as part of his school lunch program. Since 2015, Newsom has secured more than $1.4 million from the Tides Foundation for his preferred nonprofits and causes.

The center is also not the only Tides affiliate to benefit from ties to the governor. Since 2020, Newsom has raised more than $11 million for the network’s grant-making arm, the Tides Foundation—$10 million of which came from Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, a progressive Jewish foundation that also supports Israel.

The governor’s fundraising for Tides was done through the state’s "behested payments" system—a mechanism that allows California office-holders to raise money for select philanthropies, causes, or government business from their donors. Companies and others use these payments to curry favor or influence with state leaders. Newsom has also used the system to fundraise for his wife’s two nonprofits.