California Governor Gavin Newsom has denied interfering in the state's ongoing Activision Blizzard lawsuit, after a top lawyer resigned from the case in protest. Newsom is accused of "mimicking the interests of Activision's counsel", as it comes to light that an Activision board member made a sizeable donation to his 2021 anti-recall campaign.
Assistant chief counsel for California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Melanie Proctor made the allegations in an email to coworkers, sent before her departure. She said she was leaving in protest of the firing of another lawyer, Janette Wipper. Proctor says Wipper was fired over her "attempt to protect" the lawsuit and department from Newsom's interference, which allegedly included requesting "advance notice" of material and strategy relating to the case.
"The Newsom administration supports the effective work [the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing] has done under Director Kevin Kish to enforce civil rights laws and protect workers", said communications director Erin Mellon in a statement to Axios.
The aforementioned Director Kevin Kish also came to Newsom's defence, stating: "[The DFEH] has litigated groundbreaking cases that are a model of effective government enforcement of civil rights. We continue to do so with the full support of the [Newsom] administration."
Newsom's impartiality on the case first came into question when the two lawyers, Wipper and Proctor, first made their allegations against the governor. His motivations were then questioned again when it was found that Activision board member Casey Wasserman donated $100,000 to Newsom's anti-recall campaign last year, which he went on to win. Despite this, Newsom's office says that claims the governor interfered in the case are "categorically false".
While the case in California is ongoing, workers are slowly making wins against the gaming giant. Most recently, Activision made over one thousand of its contracted QA workers full-time. However, this controversially didn't include those at Raven Software, who had previously unionized and likely made this change possible.
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