By Steven T. Jones
Omigod. Like, omigod. Where do I even begin to dissect the comments by Gavin girlfriend Jennifer Siebel in today's Chronicle Style section profile ? Let's start with the money quote: "the woman is the culprit," which she spoke in reference Ruby Rippey-Tourk, who had sexual relations with the mayor even though she was his employee and the wife of his right hand man. To be fair, maybe Siebel didn't realize that she is the first Newsom proxy to attack Rippey-Tourk in print, something many journalists and women's groups feared might happen in the election year. Because in reading this profile, she seems to be perfect for Newsom in several key ways: she's gullible, good-looking, well-born, and not terribly smart. But that isn't even the most interesting revelation in this article, which is that this relationship (which she claims is already "love" after six months) was arranged by Newsom's political advisors ("after running a background check, one of the mayor's staffers invited her") and the Wilsey family (who is leading the oppositon to Healthy Saturdays and has convinced Newsom to oppose it) just as the news of Newsom dating a 20-year-old hostess broke and when the Rippey-Tourk affair was heading in that direction.
First things first, to defend my attack on Siebel's smarts, which I admit is mostly just a hunch based on one article's worth of cringe-inducing comments. It isn't just the several quotes that seem to begin with an implied "like, Omigod," such as, "I'm surprised Gavin has any opponents. No offense to anyone, but I mean, come on guys -- this is one of the best mayors in the world." Maybe she meant best-looking, because she never really broaches politics in the article, except to say, "[Like, omigod,] We had so much in common we were blown away -- from our love for Africa to our interests in political issues to art and the wine business and college sports." Yet by her own admission, "she knew little about the mayor apart from the fact that her parents supported him in the last election and he was supposedly an up-and-coming politician." Now it's my turn: Omigod! He was a high profile mayor from your hometown who had been in office over two years and that's all you knew about him? She doesn't seem to understand San Francisco's political or media landscape very well. She blasted the media's handling of Newsom's scandals: "This 'scandal' is selling papers -- sensationalized tabloid papers." Too bad the only tabloid papers in town -- which have a single fold like the Guardian or the Examiner, although she probably meant the term in the perjorative sense -- are free. She feels like she understands Newsom to the core: "The smartest thing Gavin did was to be honest with me." And his first gesture of honesty was to tell her the story coming out in the papers the day after their first date -- about Gavin dating underaged Brittanie Mountz, who drink wine in public with him -- was untrue. "I never dated her," Siebel said she was told, most evidence to the contrary. And the other affair was all Ruby-Tourk's fault, and the heartless and mean spirited media was unfairly attacking the best mayor in the world, and that Newsom's a "wonderful human being" whose deeply misunderstood by everyone except her, and that she's just getting into acting in her 30s but is on the verge of being a big star (which has nothing to do that she's using her family money to help finance her projects, including her new low-budget film "The Trouble with Romance"), and that she and Gavin fell in love because "deep down, we have something really special."
So special, that Siebel is now publicly calling out Rippey-Tourk. Here's the whole quote: "I shouldn't say this, but there are two sides to every story," she said in an exhausted tone. "If people did research into the scandal...the woman is the culprit. Alex Tourk is a nice man and it saddens me that his wife did that to him."
I have done research into this scandal and find her comments an interesting insight into Newsom, who apologized once and has refused to talk about it since, acting wounded and "exhausted" whenever a reporter brings it up (which he'll either ignore, criticize or flee from). Does he think Rippey-Tourk was the culprit? That would make sense given how he plays the victim. But that would also indicate that Newsom still hasn't take responsibility for what he did wrong, which was to give away $10,000 in public money to a former mistress, expose the city to legal liability, viciously betray a close advisor and trusted friend, and then refuse to make amends or be held accountable to any of the questions that arise from this incident. Newsom may be able to fool his girlfriend, but the rest of us remain dubious and are still waiting for Newsom to show integrity, respect for the office he holds, and an understanding that he is a public servant and not a king or a celebrity.