Going somewhere, Gavin?
California’s Democratic governor is enjoying some R&R in Montana this week — despite Big Sky Country being one of 20 states to which the Golden State bars official, state-funded travel over laws deemed discriminatory against LGBTQ+ people.
Gavin Newsom’s office announced July 1 that the governor had left California and temporarily handed power over to Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, but did not say where he had gone.
CalMatters reporter Emily Hoeven revealed Tuesday night that Newsom had gone to Montana, where his in-laws own a ranch, and was expected back at work July 11.
In response, Newsom spokesman Anthony York tweeted: “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.”
Despite York’s statement, it was unclear whether Newsom and his family were accompanied by security on their visit — or how the security was paid for if they were.
Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.Some Republicans and conservatives were quick to accuse the governor of hypocrisy over his choice of destination. “Democrats have banned state travel to these states. You’ll note Montana is on the list. Also of note, Gavin Newsom is currently vacationing in…Montana,” State Sen. Melissa Melendez wrote.
“‘Asked if the state is paying for his security, York says the office doesn’t comment on security.’ So, yes then,” Melendez added in another post, quoting Hoeven’s reporting.
“Gonna be hilarious when he vacations to Miami,” commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted, appearing to refer to Newsom’s recent ad campaign urging Florida residents to leave the Sunshine State and move west. “The price of gas in Montana is about $2.50 cheaper a gallon than in California. State of emergency [for COVID-19] in California for 2.5 years. Astounding that he would run ads in Florida & vacation in the red state of Montana while California families can’t afford to travel thanks to Dems,” California Republican National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon posted.
California initially enacted restrictions on state-funded travel in 2016 under Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown. Montana was added to the no-go list in June of last year, along with Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota and West Virginia.
At issue was a law enacted by Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte that banned transgender females from participating in school sports for girls.
“When states discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans, California law requires our office to take action,” State Attorney General Rob Bonta said at the time. “These new additions to the state-funded travel restrictions list are about exactly that … Rather than focusing on solving real issues, some politicians think it’s in their best interest to demonize trans youth and block life-saving care.”
Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah are also on the banned list.
California does allow some exemptions, including travel that is necessary to enforce state law or honor contracts signed before various states were added to the restricted list.