11. Richard Figueroa
Richard Figueroa is a key health adviser to the governor and the inner circle’s contact point for rival health interests. Ghaly knows health issues, but Figueroa knows health politics and the inside battles, the result of a long career in the Capitol. Figueroa’s rolodex of health contacts is legendary. He is the first call of health-industry representatives looking for guidance from the administration or for support for their proposals. As the pandemic has deepened, Figueroa’s role has steadily intensified. His official title is Deputy Cabinet Secretary – an elastic term that covers a lot of territory, and the same one he had under Arnold Schwarzenegger – but his real role is to serve as the governor’s political brains on health-related politics and policy. Figueroa, who came to Newsom’s team from the California Endowment, served as Gray Davis’ deputy legal secretary and was the legislative director for Rep. John Garamendi, a former state lawmaker and insurance commissioner.
Updated Aug. 25, 2021