Watch CBS News

California Gov. Newsom's office responds to leaked emails showing hardball negotiations over Prop 47 reform

Governor's office responds to leaked emails showing hardball negotiations over California Prop 47 re
Governor's office responds to leaked emails showing hardball negotiations over California Prop 47 re 03:04

SACRAMENTO — California Governor Gavin Newsom's office issued a response Tuesday after leaked emails from his chief of staff show hardball negotiations over Prop 47 reforms and Newsom's effort to keep a statewide initiative off the November ballot.

Republicans and Democratic lawmakers are blasting the exchange and leak for different reasons.

CBS News California Investigator Julie Watts first broke this story Monday, showing some of tense the behind-the-scenes messaging in the emails as deadlines near.

The email chain from Gov. Newsom's Chief of Staff Dana Williamson reads:

"…and point of personal privilege. It's really rude that you agreed to a meeting and then backed out and didn't reply. This is why no one wants to work with you…"


"It's really amazing you are incapable of taking a win. And the consultants you're working with haven't won anything in a decade."

Williamson's email responses were sent to Greg Totten, lead negotiator with the California District Attorney's Association, who is spearheading a statewide ballot initiative to reform Prop 47 that the Governor's Office and Democratic legislative leaders are opposing.

Republican Assemblymember Tom Lackey said the exposed emails damage bipartisanship.

"Disappointment," Lackey said. "I mean, there is a lot of accusatory language in that banter back and forth, and we hope that we can build back some trust because it's eroded right now."

Democratic State Senator Angelique Ashby said the leak of the email is more concerning than what's in it.

"You ought to be able to rely on the district attorneys to be a good partner in those negotiations, and I think the release of those emails is disgraceful," Ashby said.

The emails also reveal the Governor's willingness to help put an amended retail theft initiative on a later ballot, even as he opposes the current 2024 effort.

One email line from Williamson reads:

"As far as an initiative we are open to something in 2026, as well as providing all the necessary bells and whistles to make a deal rock solid."

CBS13 asked Newsom's office to explain the emails. A spokesperson issued a response that said:

"We regularly engage with a diverse range of stakeholders from across the political spectrum. The California District Attorneys Association requested a meeting with our office and later canceled. It appears their decision was based on a position that does not reflect the consensus of their broader coalition."

This exposed email evidence shows an inside look at a political process meant for publication.

The retail theft Prop 47 reform initiative did qualify for the state ballot. It's up to the authors whether they move forward with putting it on the ballot as is or negotiate a different version with lawmakers.

They have until June 27 to make that decision.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.