Newsom Hit With Backlash After Claims of Donor Company’s Exemption from Fast Food Rules

( – California Governor Gavin Wilson denies that a new minimum wage hike for fast food employees was adapted to purposefully exclude restaurants owned by Greg Flynn. Flynn owns 24 Panera Bread restaurants in the state and has largely contributed to Newsom’s campaigns.

The law in question goes into effect April 1st and would raise the minimum wage for fast food workers from the current $16 per hour to $20 per hour. The law makes an exception for restaurants that have “on-site bakeries” and sell bread as a “stand-alone menu item.” Until recently challenged, it was assumed the Panera Bread restaurants would be exempt from the wage hike. This exemption has never been explained, nor has it been made clear why it was included in the bill.

Tia Orr of the Service Employees International Union helped construct the new minimum wage deal. Orr claims the “bread rule” was included as a way to distinguish fast food restaurants from other types of eateries. Orr stated the intent of the exemption was never to exclude one specific company but to “provide clarity” on the differences between fast food establishments and other types of restaurants.

Alex Stack, spokesman for the Governor, stated the accusation is “absurd” and that Gov. Newsom never met with Flynn concerning the bill. Stack claims the state’s legal department has reviewed the requirements for the exemption and determined that Panera Bread is not exempt from the law. The restaurant does not make bread from scratch on-site but instead cooks dough that is prepared at one location and then shipped to the individual stores.

Campaign finance records show Greg Flynn has donated $220,000 to support Newsom’s political campaign since 2017.

Republican state Senate leader Brian Jones called the exemption for Panera Bread stores “unacceptable,” stating that campaign contributions should not buy “carveouts’ in legislation.

Assemblymember James Gallagher said there is no explanation for the exemption and that “someone had to push for it.” Gallagher suggested the exemption be investigated for “conflicts of interest.”

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