California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vastly overstated wildfire prevention work completed by his administration, according to a Capital Public Radio investigation released Wednesday.
State fire officials have treated less than 18 of the 140 square miles (50 of the 365 square kilometers) that the Democratic governor has touted, the radio station reported. The land is part of 35 priority projects Newsom designated in 2019 on the heels of the deadliest wildfire season in state history. In 2020, California's fuel reduction efforts also dropped from the year before, and Newsom cut the fire prevention budget by $150 million, CapRadio reported. The governor's office declined to comment on the investigation, and state fire officials took responsibility for Newsom sharing inaccurate information. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had not “done our job in educating the public, nor the governor's office” on how to communicate about the efforts, Chief Tom Porter said. Republican lawmakers and those challenging Newsom in an expected recall election later this year quickly jumped on the story as evidence of mismanagement and deceptive governing.
Also on Wednesday, the recall election for Governor Newsom took another step forward as the Secretary of State’s office said that counties had submitted final signature counts following the period provided by state law that allows people who have signed the recall petition to withdraw their signatures. The final tally was more than 200,000 signatures over what’s required to trigger the recall. As POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White reports, this was an incremental step, as the governor’s office has already said it knows the signatures withdrawn in that window wouldn’t be enough to cancel the recall.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll look at the latest on the recall election and dig into the findings of the CapRadio investigation on state efforts to prevent wildfires.
With files from the Associated Press