Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner is appealing to President Donald Trump to ask that future federal coronavirus aid funding be sent straight to counties rather than having the state dole it out – and potentially hold the money hostage to punish counties that don’t follow the state’s rules, as Wagner described it.

In a Thursday, Sept. 17, letter to Trump, Wagner wrote that Orange County residents have complied with “ever-changing directives” from Gov. Gavin Newsom, and county officials developed their own plans to safely reopen schools and businesses, but Newsom responded by closing the county’s beaches in late April and later threatening to withhold federal money from counties that don’t obey state directives.

“Right now the governor is making threats and he’s on his third erratic scheme” for what can reopen, and when and how, Wagner said in a phone interview. With Congress mulling another aid package for struggling states, counties and cities, “now is the time to kind of raise this issue, I think, with the federal government before it’s finalized.”

A spokesman for Newsom could not immediately be reached for comment late Thursday, shortly after the letter was released publicly.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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