State taxpayers reportedly picked up the tab for California Governor Gavin Newsom‘s security detail during his recent vacation to Montana, despite a ban on state-funded travel to Big Sky Country and 21 other states whose laws offend Left-coast liberals.
The development, buried in a Thursday New York Times article about President Biden, could at least be a violation of the spirit of California Assembly Bill 1887, which Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, signed into law in 2016 to ensure state funds don’t help the economies of an ever-growing list of states whose laws California deems discriminatory.
“His kids are visiting their grandparents for his daughter’s birthday, as they do every year,” Newsom’s spokesman, Anthony York, told the Times. “On the security side, the law explicitly states there is an exemption for public safety, and the governor has to travel with security.”
Indeed, the law contains exceptions for taxpayer funded travel, including one for “the protection of public health, welfare, or safety, as determined by the affected agency, department, board, authority, or commission.” But York’s initial deflections about funding of the trip to Newsom’s in-laws’ ranch in the Bitterroot Valley, first reported Wednesday by CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven, only seemed to spur confusion.
“SCOOP! The travel ban applies to using state funds,” York tweeted. “The Governor’s travel is not being paid by the state. Connecting the two is an attempt at gotcha journalism that is neither gotcha nor journalism. The governor is on a vacation with his family. He will return later this week.”
Jennifer Van Laar of RedState said it appeared that Newsom’s travel arrangements did not comply with the law and wondered if the millionaire governor intended to reimburse taxpayers.
“It’s important to note that York did not say that Newsom planned to reimburse the state for the cost of that travel, and even if he did, that wouldn’t satisfy the law, since the law specifically states both that the state cannot require an employee to travel to any of the states on the list and that the state cannot approve a request to fund such travel,” she noted. “So, Newsom’s only way out is to claim an exemption.”
Whether Newsom’s personal safety justified an exception to the ban or not, the optics of a trip to a state on California’s naughty list were just the latest example of Newsom’s “rules for thee, not for me” image. The governor was roundly accused of hypocrisy when he was caught attending a dinner party at French Laundry, a posh Napa Valley eatery, at the height of the COVID pandemic. At the time, the state forbade large indoor gatherings.
The controversy, fueled by leaked photos of Newsom and the other guests maskless and eschewing social distancing recommendations, helped prompt an ultimately unsuccessful recall effort against Newsom. Perhaps just as galling to ordinary folks as the images of Newsom and his pals flaunting COVID restrictions was the reported size of the bar tab they ran up: $15,000.