Capitol Alert

Woman in Newsom affair ‘doubtful’ it was sexual harassment

Ruby Rippey Gibney, the former aide to Gavin Newsom whose more than decade-old affair is resurfacing as part of the gubernatorial race, wrote Wednesday that her former boss should be absolved from recurring accusations of workplace harassment.

In an online post that linked to a recent tabloid story on the affair, Newsom’s former appointments secretary said while she supports the #Metoo movement, “I am doubtful that it applies” in her case.

“Yes, I was a subordinate, but I was also a free-thinking, 33-(year)-old adult married woman & mother,” she wrote on Facebook. “(I also happened to have an unfortunate inclinations towards drinking-to-excess & self-destruction.)”

Added Rippey Gibney: “I can’t blame anyone for my part in this ugly episode.”

Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor, has repeatedly apologized for the transgressions. Asked Monday about the scandal in the context of the #MeToo movement, he again said he was sorry, adding that the culture of “toxic masculinity” must be addressed.

“I would say the same thing that I said (then) to the voters in San Francisco: that I acknowledged it. I apologized for it. I learned an enormous amount from it,” Newsom said.

“I applaud women for coming forward” as part of the #MeToo movement, he added.

Newsom’s Republican opponents in the governor’s race said during a debate Tuesday they planned to make an issue of the affair, with each pointing to his position of power over her in the workplace.

The affair, revealed in 2007, rocked City Hall and threatened to derail Newsom’s promising political future. He was going through a divorce at the time while Rippey Gibney, who then went by Ruby Rippey-Tourk, was married to Newsom’s campaign manager and one of his closest aides.

Newsom announced he would seek treatment for alcohol abuse with Mimi Silbert, a longtime friend who headed up the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco. Newsom and his current wife, Jennifer Siebel, who were dating at the time, described the ordeal as exceedingly difficult on their families.

Amid the fallout in 2007, Siebel Newsom issued an apology to Rippey Gibney after blaming her in extensive comments about the affair on the blog SFist, saying she was “the culprit.”

“This is a very painful situation for everyone involved and in my case it (led) to an expression of frustration that I profoundly regret,” Siebel Newsom said in the apology.

Rippey Gibney did not respond to a message on Wednesday. And Newsom’s campaign was not immediately available for comment.

But in her post Wednesday, she said her own actions and the ensuing scandal destroyed her marriage.

Rippey Gibney added that it also pushed her toward sustained sobriety and into “a new life and family.” “I love you very much,” she wrote to her current husband in the post.

She concluded her message with a quote from Mike Tyson: “If you’re not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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