Newsom Appoints Failed “Energy Czar” to UC Board of Regents

“Ana Matosantos, 46, of Sacramento, has been appointed to the University of California Board of Regents,” proclaims Gov. Gavin Newsom in a July 22 press release. Matosantos, a Democrat who hails from Puerto Rico, has served as the governor’s Cabinet Secretary since 2019. The press release omits another key appointment. 

As we noted, in 2019 Governor Newsom appointed Matosantos state “Energy Czar,” calling her a “genius” and a person of “unrivaled professional accomplishment.” The unrivaled genius failed to prevent another round of rolling blackouts and continued energy woes. That should come as no surprise.

In 2016, Congress passed the PROMESA legislation to deal with Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt, and the legislation created the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board. San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi favored Matosantos for a board post, and President Obama duly appointed her. It was not publically disclosed that Matosantos was also on the board of the Matosantos Commercial Corporation, owned by her wealthy family, with deep interests in the energy business on the island. 

According to Christopher D. Coursen, former counsel of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, the Oversight Board “has been a complete failure and has not achieved anything of significance.” As Coursen contended, President Trump and Congress needed to replace members “clearly unfit to serve” with those dedicated to restoring fiscal responsibility in Puerto Rico. 

In 2011, Matosantos was arrested for drunk driving in Sacramento, but Gov. Jerry Brown refused to accept her resignation. Matosantos served nearly four years as Brown’s chief budget advisor, and her tenure was marked by “multibillion-dollar shortfalls.” Covered California, the state’s wholly owned subsidiary of Obamacare, the so-called “Affordable Care Act,” then took on Matosantos at $120,000 for a six-month stint. Her performance did nothing to prevent Covered California from becoming what health journalist Emily Bazar described as “widespread consumer misery.”

The University of California Board of Regents holds authority over university policies, financial affairs, tuition, and fees, and also appoints the university president. Governor Newsom’s announcement of Ana Matosantos cites no experience in higher education. If Californians thought her appointment was based more on politics and cronyism than competence and experience, it would be hard to blame them.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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