California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is defending himself after he was caught vacationing in Montana.
What is the problem?
Newsom left California with his family last month, but did not initially disclose the location of his travels. Officials did not immediately answer why the information was not shared, which is unusual for Newsom's out-of-state trips, Cal Matters reported.
The problem is that Montana is among other states on a travel ban list imposed by the state of California. The prohibition bars "state-funded" or "state-sponsored" travel to states that California officials claimed have adopted policies that discriminate against LGBT people.
News of the governor's travels are leading to new charges of "bold hypocrisy." Newsom was accused of hypocrisy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when he was caught caught skirting rules that Californians otherwise had to follow.
What is Newsom saying?
Now, Newsom is on the defensive, arguing his vacation does not violate the travel ban.
"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," Anthony York, a senior adviser to the governor, told Cal Matters.
However, when asked whether taxpayer funds are paying for Newsom's security while out-of-state, York refused to answer. "We don’t comment or provide details on the governor’s security," he said.
The question is important because California's state law enforcement agency, the California Highway Patrol, is tasked with dignitary protection.
The CHP's website states:
Dignitary Protection Section (DPS) operates from both Los Angeles and Sacramento and is responsible for the protection of state constitutional officers including: the Governor, First Lady, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Controller, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the State Insurance Commissioner.
Politico reported that, in the past, California governors have traveled out-of-state with CHP agents serving as security. If that is true now, then Newsom would appear to be skirting the travel ban, since the CHP is funded through taxpayer dollars.
Newsom is expected to return to California over the weekend, Hoeven reported.