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Major Gavin Newsom donor benefitting from California $20 minimum wage exemption pushed by governor: report

Billionaire Greg Flynn, a major donor to Democrat California Gov. Gavin Newsom, is benefitting from an exemption to the state's new $20 minimum wage regulations.

A major donor to Democrat California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to reap the benefit of an obscure exemption to the state's new $20 minimum wage regulations for the fast food industry that will allow some of his restaurants to continue paying lower wages.

Newsom pushed for the exemption, which allows restaurants baking and selling bread as a standalone item to continue paying the current rate of $16 to its employees. That means billionaire Greg Flynn, a longtime donor to the governor, could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year per each of his two-dozen Panera Bread franchise locations across California, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The report noted that Flynn was previously involved in business dealings with Newsom, and had contributed to his political campaigns. It also noted his opposition to the law that originally included the new regulations, known as the FAST Act, which led him to lobby Newsom's office to exclude Panera Bread as a fast food chain, sources told Bloomberg.


Talks between labor groups and the fast food industry ultimately lead to a repeal of the law last year — which originally set the minimum wage higher than $20 — and the implementation of compromised regulations that included the bread exemption and the $20 minimum wage.

According to the report, Flynn is the largest franchisee in the U.S., and owns thousands of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Wendy's, Panera Bread and Applebee's locations.

Flynn has been a prolific donor to Newsom's campaigns. State records show he gave $8,400 to Newsom's 2018 candidacy and later came to his rescue during his 2021 recall election with other big-name contributors.


In June 2021, Flynn donated $100,000 to the Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom committee, putting him among its most prominent individual backers alongside other billionaires such as Netflix executive chairman Reed Hastings and financier George Soros. The effort to recall Newsom ultimately failed by almost 24 points. 

Flynn later provided a combined $64,800 to Newsom's 2022 campaign. He's also contributed thousands of dollars more to other powerful Democrats in the Golden State, such as Attorney General Rob Bonta and Treasurer Fiona Ma.

Fox News Digital has reached out Newsom's office, Flynn's holding company and Panera Bread for comment. Newsom’s office told Bloomberg the wage law was the "result of countless hours of negotiations with dozens of stakeholders over two years," while Flynn told the outlet he played no role in formulating the exemption.

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