Could Newsom’s Drinking and Womanizing Come Back to Haunt Him? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Could Newsom’s Drinking and Womanizing Come Back to Haunt Him?
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom listens to his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, on Dec, 10, 2019 (Chris Allan/Shutterstock)

Gov. Gavin Newsom does not want to stay in California forever. But if Newsom does try for the presidency or another national position, he might encounter more resistance to his sordid past than he did when he was running for governor of California.

As mayor of San Francisco, Newsom had a secret relationship with his married secretary and publicly dated a 19-year-old. His admitted problems with alcohol abuse led him to show up drunk to an official mayoral visit at least once.

During his first gubernatorial primary, one independent anti-Newsom PAC used these events against him.

One paid ad on Facebook in 2018 asked, “Do you think it was inappropriate for Newsom to have a relationship with a subordinate staff member suffering from substance dependency?” while one ad on Instagram said, “Do you question Newsom’s judgment in engaging in a relationship with a 19-year-old woman who accompanied him to a formal public event and was photographed with an alcoholic beverage in her hand?”

Those ads did not gain much traction in the free-love state of California. But the story of his philandering as mayor may raise some concerns in Georgia or Ohio.

For most of Newsom’s first term as mayor, he and his then-wife, Kimberly Guilfoyle, were a power couple. They appeared in the September 2004 edition of Harper’s Bazaar under the headline “The New Kennedys.” Guilfoyle and Newsom posed in what has been described as “sexually-tinged” photos, one of which shows them sprawled out on the rug of billionaire Gordon Getty’s mansion while wearing an evening dress and tuxedo. The article described the two as “one of the most glamorous political unions since Jack and Jackie.”

Four months later, Newsom and Guilfoyle announced that they were getting divorced.

By February, Newsom’s phone number was leaked from Paris Hilton’s “buddy list” on her messaging device.

Throughout 2005, Newsom and Guilfoyle remained married but separated and even appeared at events together, including a November dinner with now-King Charles and his wife, Camilla. At the time, locals questioned whether the divorce would go through, but this is the period during which Newsom says his affair with his married secretary took place.

In February 2006, before his divorce from Guilfoyle had been finalized, he met actress Sofia Milos, a Scientologist, at a glitzy wedding. That very weekend, he was spotted kissing the CSI: Miami star at 2 a.m. at a North Beach café. Later that day, the mayor was seen grabbing lunch with a “young, cute blond.” Within a matter of a week, his divorce was finalized.

Newsom attended a variety of celebrity events with Milos, including an event in March held by the anti–psychiatric medicine organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which was founded by the Church of Scientology, prompting questions over his relationship with the cult-like religion.

In September, Newsom showed up for opening night at the San Francisco Symphony with a teenager, a young-looking blond named Brittanie Mountz, on his arm. He was 38 years old. Attending opening night was part of his official mayoral duties. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Newsom “play[ed] coy” about his date, “assign[ing her] various personas: from speechwriter to secretary, even sports writer.”

At the time, there was no concern over the power differential between the 38-year-old mayor of a major city and the 19-year-old restaurant hostess. An ABC News article, which referred to Mountz as “Mayor McHottie’s New Girlfriend,” said: “[Is]the city bothered by the mayor’s May-October relationship? Not exactly.”

“I haven’t heard anyone say anything negative about the young woman he’s seeing,” said San Francisco Chronicle gossip columnist Leah Garchik in 2006. “It’s a live-and-let-live city, and we have a young handsome mayor. More power to them.”

Most of the concern came from supporters who worried that it could make Newsom look bad on the national stage.

One editor at a local paper, however, did criticize the mayor’s decision-making at the time.

“Everyone expects him to have this big political career, but he makes a lot of bad choices,” he said, “Kim was always putting her foot in her mouth and now he’s dating this girl who’s barely out of college. He lets his hormones take over.”

There were some questions about Mountz’s age. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mountz changed her age on her Myspace page from 19 to 26. The paper looked into her further and found that Mountz was a registered Republican. In California, the fact that the mayor was dating a Republican was a bigger scandal than the fact that the mayor was dating a teenager with whom he shared a 19-year age gap. “How dare he?” said one anonymous city official. “He knows how to pick ’em. You can count the young female Republicans in this town on one hand.”

Media criticism also centered around the irrelevant in the context of an inappropriate relationship: Mountz was seen holding a glass of wine at an event she attended with Newsom.

When a journalist asked Newsom if he had been drinking with Mountz at the Westfield mall opening, Newsom, in characteristic fashion, freaked out in anger, telling reporters, “I’ve got to deal with all kinds of terrible calls from reporters doing horrible things that are mean-spirited.”

Newsom’s spokesman said that Newsom had never provided Mountz with alcohol and added, “If she was drinking … the mayor didn’t notice.”

Mountz and Newsom also attended a black-tie dinner at the M.H. de Young Museum on Sept. 23, 2006. In a photograph, both are pictured beaming and leaning up against one another.

Newsom also was accompanied to an event in September 2006 by Erin Brodie, who had recently starred in NBC’s reality TV series For Love or Money and appeared as “Ms. October” in the Sexiest Women of Reality TV Calendar.

It’s unclear when Newsom began dating his now-wife, Jennifer Siebel. According to some accounts, they began dating in September 2006. A Nov. 14, 2022, article in TheWrap says, “Newsom began dating Siebel in September 2006.” However, the couple made their first public appearance on Nov. 3, 2006, when the two attended the Red Tie Gala, which benefited a nursing home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of nuns.

The pair initially had a rough go of it, as, on Jan. 31, 2007, Alex Tourk, his top aide and campaign manager, confronted Newsom after he learned that his wife, Ruby Rippey-Tourk, with whom he shared several young children, had had an affair with Newsom. Tourk quit in disgust. He and his wife divorced.

The news quickly became public. Newsom admitted the affair and said he was sorry at a news conference.

“Thank you all for coming here on short notice. I want to make it clear that everything you’ve heard and read is true,” he said. “I am deeply sorry about that. I hurt someone I care deeply about, Alex Tourk, his friends, and family. That is something I have to live with and something that I am deeply sorry for.”

At the time of the affair, Rippey-Tourk was working as Newsom’s appointments secretary. In the summer of 2006, the year after the affair, she took a leave of absence from the mayor’s office and went to rehab for alcohol abuse in Arizona, for which she received $10,000 from the city as part of its catastrophic-illness program. The funding was an exception to the city’s usual procedures.

The affair is still remembered in the city. The chairman of the San Francisco GOP, John Dennis, told The American Spectator: “As a husband and a father, the thing that bothers me about him is that he slept with his best friend’s wife. He broke up their family and never apologized for that. He broke up their family. They had small kids. That’s a terrible thing to do.”

“He’s such a narcissist,” said Dennis, “that he couldn’t keep his hands off his best friend’s wife when he was in a position of power. That tells you everything you need to know about him. He’s a bad guy.”

Soon after the revelation of the affair, Newsom announced that he would seek counseling for alcohol abuse. “Upon reflection with friends and family this weekend, I have come to the conclusion that I will be a better person without alcohol in my life,” he said in a statement. While Newsom claimed that his “problems with alcohol are not an excuse for my personal lapses in judgment,” his announcement had the effect of mollifying San Francisco citizens with the story that Newsom had acted because of a clinical problem.

The media often referred to Newsom’s treatment as “rehab,” but, in 2018, Newsom revealed that his treatment was really a series of one-on-one conversations with a coach.

“I never went to rehab,” Newsom told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I went to Mimi, which is a whole version of life-coach-change-get-your-act-together. Mimi said stop, I stopped. And that was it. And then she said, ‘I’ll tell you when I think you can have wine again.’”

The public was concerned at the time that Newsom had a drinking problem. In December 2006, Newsom showed up drunk to a hospital the night that a San Francisco police officer was shot to death. Newsom was there to comfort the officer’s family. In reporting the eyewitness accounts, the San Francisco Chronicle said, “It’s not the first time that Newsom has been spotted after hours at least one sheet to the wind.”

Indeed, Newsom was a known heavy drinker, and this is remembered in San Francisco.

Greg, a wealthy San Franciscan resident who chose not to share his last name (saying, “I don’t want to be associated with that man”), told The American Spectator: “I saw him all the time when he used to hang out at the Balboa [Café, which is owned by the restaurant group Newsom founded]. Half the time he was lit.”

In California, Gavin’s affair and relationship with a teenager are today largely forgotten, said John Howard, the editor of the Capitol Weekly, a nonpartisan news outlet that covers California politics.

“I don’t hear that come up anytime now,” he said. “The only time I hear his relationships come up is when Kimberly Guilfoyle is in the news, like when she went on TV and melted down and was a lunatic. I think people say, ‘God, that woman was married to Gavin Newsom.’”

Last year, the memory of those relationships was brought back into the public consciousness for a short time when Los Cerritos Community News published an article headlined “EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Gavin Newsom Having an Affair With a High-Level Staffer.”

The article said, “Hews Media Group- Cerritos News has learned from high-level sources that Gov. Gavin Newsom is having a romantic relationship with one of his close staffers.”

The San Joaquin Valley Sun reported that same month that the “worst-kept secret in Sacramento” was that “Newsom was engaged in multiple alleged extra-marital affairs over the course of 2020.”

The San Joaquin Valley Sun claimed that “[s]ources on K Street and within the Capitol complex peppered The Sun with corroborating rumors of infidelity by Newsom during the pandemic year.”

“This is spiraling into the worst-kept secret in town,” an anonymous source allegedly told the newspaper.

The San Joaquin Valley Sun said that it knew who the woman was and that she was a California official.

The paper reported that the Los Angeles Times and Politico were both chasing the story. However, no further stories have come of the rumor, and it has not been substantiated in any way.

With Newsom’s past scandals of breaking up a young family and dating a teenager, a second affair would be just another item on a list of personal failures. The question is whether America has grown to become so much like California that it too won’t care about these scandals.

READ MORE:

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Ellie Gardey
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Ellie Gardey is Reporter and Associate Editor at The American Spectator. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she studied political science, philosophy, and journalism. Ellie has previously written for the Daily Caller, College Fix, and Irish Rover. She is originally from Michigan. Follow her on Twitter at @EllieGardey. Contact her at egardey@spectator.org.
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