By Jerry Oppenheimer for DailyMail.com
Jerry Oppenheimer is a New York Times bestselling author whose 13 books have included biographies of such American icons as the Clintons and the Kennedys
California‘s democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, once a liberal favorite, has become one of the state’s most controversial leaders in decades, now facing an intense recall effort that could result in his ouster.
Furious with his management of the pandemic and the state’s vaccine distribution, a massive petition campaign is underway by voters to get Newsom, 53, out of office – and the March deadline to submit signatures is looming.
As of Wednesday, enough signatures had been certified to officially call a recall.
The governor’s popularity took a nose dive following a turbulent year that saw the state in disarray with tens of thousands of residents reportedly fleeing like the 19th century California gold rush in reverse.
If the gubernatorial recall election is successful, it would be California’s first since former sitting democratic Governor Gray Davis was booted out in 2003.
But don’t count Newsom out just yet.
California Governor Gavin Newsom had been viewed as a modern day Kennedy with a promising political career after he was elected the youngest mayor of San Francisco in 2004. PICTURED: Newsom and then-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle after they cast their ballots for the mayoral run-off election December 9, 2003 in San Francisco
The campaign launched by the California Patriot Coalition to recall Newsom had until March 17 to hit a required threshold of nearly 1.5 million signatures
He has the political and financial support of some of the state’s most powerful and influential families, among them one of the world’s wealthiest – the Getty Oil dynasty.
By the time Newsom ran for governor three years ago, members of the sprawling Getty family had donated more than $500,000 to his various successful campaigns – from winning election to San Francisco’s board of supervisors, followed by twice winning the San Francisco mayoral, to twice winning California’s lieutenant governorship, and then, the pinnacle, the governorship, with apparent hopes of one day the presidency.
And Newsom’s ties to the Gettys go beyond their financial backing: his father was the Getty family lawyer, his goddaughter is a Getty, and he once ran a wine shop and restaurant business with Billy Getty prior to his career in politics.
His close relationship with the elite family would be used as a backdrop – both literally and figuratively – for his mayoral campaign for San Francisco in 2003.
After winning the election, Newsom and his first wife, then little known city attorney and prosecutor Kimberly Guilfoyle – now Donald Trump Jr’s main squeeze and a former Fox News Channel star – were photographed in the Getty Villa in Malibu for an eight-page spread in chic Harper’s Bazaar.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is now dating Donald Trump Jr, had been pictured alongside her ex-husband on the campaign trail and often made more local headlines than Newsom himself
The posh villa is one of the many homes of Newsom’s hugely wealthy, unofficially adoptive parents, Ann, who died in September, and Gordon Getty, who helped finance his meteoric rise in politics.
An heir to the Getty fortune, the San Francisco philanthropist and patron of the arts Gordon Getty is one of the four sons of the late Getty patriarch, the wildly eccentric J. Paul Getty, billed as America’s first genuine billionaire.
Besides wealth, power and prestige, the Gettys are a family littered with scandal and tragedy through the generations, including drug overdoses, adultery, divorces, bitter lawsuits and more.
J. Paul was a philanderer of the first order, having at least five wives. When one of his grandsons was kidnapped, the infamous tight-wad money-man refused to come up with the demanded many millions in ransom, bargaining down the amount.
The boy was returned, but missing an ear.
It was Gavin Newsom’s father, the Getty’s lawyer, who delivered the ransom money.
Gordon Getty followed in his father’s steps as a womanizer. In 1999, it was revealed that while he was married to his high-society wife, Ann, he had a secret double life and second family in Los Angeles for 14 years.
The Getty family was instrumental in Newsom’s ascent to public office. He is pictured with Peter and Billy Getty in 1992
Family ties: Newsom is the son of late judge William Newsom (pictured) once a lawyer for the Getty family
The shocker was billed by the press as ‘a white glove secret,’ and it was disclosed that only a ‘select circle of San Francisco’s upper-crust society knew.’
The scandal became public when the three young daughters of the ‘other woman,’ in Getty’s life, Cynthia Beck, filed to have their last names changed from Beck to Getty, and began negotiating for inheritance rights from Getty.
He acknowledged the bizarre relationship in a press release. ‘Nicolette, Kendalle and Alexandra are my children. Their mother Cynthia Beck, and I love them very much.’ The girls ranged in age back then from 8 to 14.
Gordon had met his legitimate wife and mother of his three sons, Ann Getty, who has had a prominent career as an interior designer, publisher and paleoanthropologist, in a San Francisco bar and eloped in Las Vegas on Christmas Day 1964.
Within Gordon and Ann Getty’s immediate family – and Gavin Newsom’s by extension – scandals continued, even up until last year.
Two of the couple’s troubled three sons – members of the latest Getty generation – died of drug overdoses five years apart.
John Getty, 52, was found dead in a posh hotel suite in San Antonio, just before last Thanksgiving. And on April Fool’s day in 2015, his brother, Andrew, 47, overdosed in his spectacular Spanish-style villa in the Hollywood Hills.
At night, it was said, he could see Malibu and the famed J. Paul Getty Museum, the dynasty’s legacy, filled with the world’s great art treasurers collected by the patriarch, the dead brothers late paternal grandfather.
One of the latest members of the Getty family making headlines is Newsom’s goddaughter, Natalia ‘Nats’ Getty.
Newsom’s public image and upper class background helped him become a liberal favorite in the early 2000s. His royal-style marriage to first bride, Kimberly Guilfoyle, was called ‘one of the most glamorous political unions since Jack and Jackie’
The 28-year-old has gained international fame and notoriety as a lesbian model, YouTube personality, and influencer who recently announced on social media that she’s started her ‘physical transition’ to become male and ‘finally have the chest I have always dreamed of.’
With Gavin Newsom’s political career now jeopardized with the recall action, his private life in the past hasn’t always been successful either, especially when it came to the handsome politician’s interaction with women.
In the Getty male tradition, Newsom was a womanizer, and was caught cheating with another man’s wife, his longtime friend and mayoral campaign manager.
The New York Times called it a ‘scandal with all the sex and betrayal of a tawdry novel.’
The affair happened in 2005, a short-term sexual relationship, Newsom acknowledged, with the pretty 34-year-old Ruby Rippey-Tourk, wife of Alex Tourk, Newsom’s former deputy chief of staff and a close friend, who had been running Newsom’s mayoral re-election campaign.
The 53-year-old Democrat was a rising star of his party when he was elected mayor of San Francisco in 2004. He was once married to Kimberly Guilfoyle, then a city attorney and successful prosecutor who has since switched over to the right side of the political spectrum
His cheating wife had reportedly confessed the affair to her husband as part of rehabilitation for a substance abuse problem.
After The San Francisco Chronicle broke the story in February 2007, then-Mayor Newsom ‘fessed up. ‘Everything you’ve heard and read is true,’ he told a crowded presser. ‘And I am deeply sorry about that.’
Newsom declared, ‘I’ve hurt someone I care deeply about, Alex Tourk, and that is something I have to live with.’
Newsom’s royal-style marriage to Guilfoyle in 2001 was called ‘one of the most glamorous political unions since Jack and Jackie.’
The Camelot analogy in the September 2004 issue of Harper’s Bazaar bore the headline, ‘The New Kennedys,’ and was published with much fanfare after Newsom was elected the youngest mayor of San Francisco.
A progressive who catered to the left wing politics of San Francisco, he immediately ignited a national controversy by ordering the city to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.
The action was criticized by then-President George Bush and Newsom’s order infuriated the evangelical Right.
Newsom later admitted he regretted his actions after he was seen attending the party with his second wife Jennifer Siebel, who goes by ‘first partner’ as opposed to the gendered term ‘first lady’
Newsom’s woes started in November when he was caught dining out at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant for a lobbyist’s birthday (pictured) as he told Californians to avoid gatherings, reinforcing perceptions that he is out of touch with people
Spread over eight pages in high-fashion Harper’s Bazaar were glamorous photos of San Francisco’s charismatic young mayor, dapper in a $1,000 tux.
His voluptuous wife, Kimberly, dubbed ‘the babe of the San Francisco bar’ by the snarky local press, was equally striking in a $2,000 little black dress.
Guilfoyle also had ties to the Getty family herself, having once dated one of Gordon Getty’s biological sons, Billy Getty, with probable hopes of joining one of the world’s richest families, before hooking up with Newsom.
A successful prosecutor who had worked her way through law school by modeling, she often made more local headlines than Newsom himself because of the media’s fixation on her looks.
‘Kimberly Guilfoyle is known as the lingerie model- society girl-district attorney,’ declared the website of The San Francisco Chronicle.
‘To say that Guilfoyle is bothered by this lazy summation of her life… would be an understatement on a par with saying that Liberace was fond of rhinestones…Kimberly Guilfoyle has had it with the incessant lowbrow focus on her looks or the depiction of her as a vapid debutante.’
But like a number of Kennedy marriages, Newsom’s with the alluring and ambitious Guilfoyle wouldn’t last, either.
Less than a week after she stood by her husband at his mayoral swearing-in and held the Bible for him, she left her heart in San Francisco and headed to New York to begin a career in television,and would become a star on the conservative Fox News Channel years later.
After three years of marriage, Newsom and Guilfoyle filed for divorce a year after she began her national TV gig in the Big Apple.
They publicly claimed their bicoastal marriage didn’t work out. But there were whispers – his drinking that he later went public with, and his jealousy about her alleged flirting, none of which was ever proven to be true. At least back then.
Their divorce was finalized two weeks after Valentine’s Day in 2006.
The same year of her split with Newsom, Guilfoyle, the daughter of a retired construction worker and a special education teacher mother, met her next future husband on a blind date, it was said. They were engaged two months later, but their romance was reportedly kept a secret until her divorce with Newsom was finalized.
She married the handsome, wealthy and prominent president and chief executive of the Maurice Villency furniture chain, Eric Villency, in a wedding at Sandy Lane, a ritzy resort in St. James Barbados. With him, she had a son. That marriage, like her first, also lasted a few years and ended in divorce.
And today – having gone from the left side of the political spectrum with Newsom, to the right side, she’s now in the arms of the former president’s son, Don Jr. and she’s a vocal MAGA voice.
As Guilfoyle told The Washington Post in 2018, ‘Grass doesn’t grow too long under my feet. I’m on the move.’
In 2006, the same year of his split with Guilfoyle, who had begun her relationship with Villency, the then-future California governor attended the San Francisco Artists Ball on a blind date with the woman who would become his second wife, Jennifer Siebel, an actress who appeared in such TV shows as Mad Men.
‘We had so much in common,’ she later declared. ‘We were blown away – from our love for Africa to our interests in political issues to art and the wine business and college sports.’
He proposed to her in Hawaii in late 2007 and they were married in Montana in 2008.
Siebel is now standing by him in the political fight of his life as voters are saying they disapprove of his job performance – mainly involving his management of the pandemic.
Newsom ignited national outrage and backlash last November after his secret attendance was revealed at a fancy outside 12-person mask-less dinner party at the French Laundry, the world’s most exclusive restaurant.
He had violated his own rules about gathering during the pandemic, and he was labeled a hypocrite.
The party was thrown during California’s coronavirus surge, and his attendance was revealed shortly after he asked citizens to not travel for the holidays, or have large gatherings.
He and his second wife, the actress Jennifer Siebel, known as the ‘First Partner’ as opposed to ‘first lady,’ in compliance with current political correctness protocols and to address political stereotypes, had joined friends at the posh restaurant to celebrate the 50th birthday of a lobbyist and close friend and advisor of the governor.
Caught, Newsom admitted that he had been wrong in attending.
‘While the First Partner and I followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, I should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner,’ he stated.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Dan Morain, the former editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee newspaper, declared that the last thing the state needs is the ‘political circus’ of a recall election.
‘But thanks to Newsom’s blundering and bad luck,’ he added, ‘Republicans have a fighting chance.’
And Politico has reported that major donors to President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign were helping to finance the Newsom recall movement.
They are ‘zeroing in on a new target as they dig out from the wreckage of the 2020 election: California Governor Gavin Newsom.’