As RedState’s Cameron Arcand reported Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vacationed in Montana with his family over the 4th of July holiday – a state that is currently on the list of states to which California has banned state-sponsored travel because it’s deemed to have anti-LGBTQ “discriminatory laws.”
Well, he’s on vacation, right? That’s private travel, ostensibly paid for by the Newsom family, and no big deal?
Not exactly. Newsom is afforded a state-funded security detail through the California Highway Patrol (CHP), and there’s no indication that those officers are not with him. That apparently puts Newsom in violation of California’s AB-1887, signed by Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, in 2016. That law states (emphasis added):
“[A] state agency, department, board, authority, or commission, including an agency, department, board, authority, or commission of the University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, or the California State University, and the Legislature shall not…require any of its employees, officers, or members to travel to a state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that voids or repeals, or has the effect of voiding or repealing, existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression or has enacted a law that authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, including any law that creates an exemption to antidiscrimination laws in order to permit discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
Security (including a car and driver) is provided for Newsom and California’s other seven statewide constitutional officers by the CHP, and we have an idea of the dollar amounts paid to the CHP for security for the other constitutional officers because their departments have contracts with and are billed for the usage by the CHP.
In Newsom’s case, though, his security is part of the CHP’s budget and the Governor’s office isn’t required to reimburse CHP for their use. While Jerry Brown was governor a CHP spokesperson replied to a question from the San Francisco Chronicle asking how much they spent on his detail thusly:
“For security reasons, we do not release the specific cost.”
Jerry Brown famously traveled on Southwest Airlines and with just a one-person security detail, so the cost of his security detail was likely much lower than Newsom’s. Newsom’s office refuses to release any information about his security or about the “First Partner’s” security detail, and we already know that CHP isn’t likely to be transparent.
When the California Globe simply asked for information about Newsom’s Spring Break trip to Central and South America, this is part of the response they received:
“In order to protect the personal security of the First Partner as well as the Governor and his staff, calendar entries that contain certain travel information and information about the First Partner or the Governor’s security detail will not be produced.”
As of the time of publishing, one of Newsom’s press officers was attempting to intimidate CalMatters reporter Emily Hoeven on Twitter, claiming that the Newsoms didn’t use any taxpayer dollars to travel to Montana, after Hoeven tweeted the office’s position that “the office doesn’t comment on security.”
Anthony York tweeted:
SCOOP! The travel ban applies to using state funds. 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
In later tweets he was defensive, seeming to claim that since his office confirmed to Hoeven that Newsom was in Montana they were fully open.
There were numerous reports throughout the pandemic that Newsom had visited his in-law’s place in Montana while the state was in lockdown, which Newsom’s office denied, and it was common knowledge before the pandemic that the family often spent holidays or vacations there. So why the secrecy now, when California’s not locked down (although a State of Emergency declaration still applies)? Montana wasn’t added to the “no state-sponsored travel” list until after a pair of bills were enacted in April and May of 2021, so it wasn’t really an issue until now.
But it is rather ironic that while Newsom was paying for ad time in Florida and running an ad painting that state’s governor as anti-LGBTQ, Newsom was apparently breaking his own state’s law and spending his tourist dollars in a state California considers bigoted toward the LGBTQ community.
RedState has filed a Public Records Act request for documents with both the California Highway Patrol and the Office of the Governor in an attempt to determine how many members of his security detail traveled with the family and what that cost to the taxpayers was. Unfortunately, AB-1887 has no teeth; it simply makes it the responsibility of the state agency or official to consult the Attorney General’s list of prohibited states, and there is no listed penalty for a state officer who compels a state employee to travel to a prohibited state.