The governor’s office said Friday that the governor had left California to spend time with family, but it did not until Tuesday answer Cal Matters’ questions about where he was or when specifically he would return, a noticeable difference from communication surrounding other recent out-of-state trips.
A spokesperson said Newsom hasn’t yet booked his return trip, but that he will return to California over the weekend and be back in the office on Monday.
Montana is among the 22 states to which California has banned state-funded and state-sponsored travel, citing policies it deems discriminatory to LGBTQ+ people.
Montana is also one of the states Newsom’s office has called out for restricting abortion access.
Anthony York, Newsom’s senior adviser for communications, told Cal Matters: “We don’t legislate where people vacation. Never have. The travel ban applies to expending state funds. The governor’s travel is not being paid for by the state.”
Asked if the state is paying for Newsom’s security while he is in Montana, York said: “We don’t comment or provide details on the governor’s security.”
The parents of Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, own a ranch in Montana. The couple was married there, and their oldest child is named Montana.
The reluctance of Newsom’s office to share details about the vacation suggests the governor is aware of the politically perilous optics of vacationing in a red state while he attempts to position himself at the vanguard of the Democratic Party — and, indeed, the news was seized upon by conservative news outlets including the National Review, Breitbart and the Washington Examiner.
Harmeet Dhillon, California’s Republican National Committeewoman, issued a statement that said, in part: “We’d love to know the gas prices and the COVID emergency status where the Governor is. Most Californians can’t afford to take their normal holidays this year, thanks to Gavin Newsom and his party’s lack of leadership of our state.”
Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis is serving as acting governor in Newsom’s absence, but it’s unlikely that she will have to take action on any bills. Kounalakis became the first woman to sign a bill into California law, during Newsom’s family vacation in March.
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