CLAIM: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been defying his own stay-at-home order and fleeing to Montana.
THE FACTS: The governor has not left the state since the stay-at-home order was issued.
Posts claiming the governor fled to Montana date back to at least May 5, with comments shared on Facebook suggesting the governor was seen in Bitterroot Valley without a mask. “Did you and your family enjoy being in Bitterroot Valley Montana last weekend?” one comment stated. “What’s wrong with staying in the state you have locked down.” The falsehood gained traction this week with posts featuring a photo of the governor receiving thousands of likes. “I am Gavin Newsom. I ordered California to stay home, no trips or vacations this summer. I decided to take a family vacation to Montana this weekend. Do as I say, not as I do,” the posts said.
The governor’s office confirmed to the AP that he has not left the state throughout his order. “The Governor and his family have been in California for the duration of the pandemic,” Nathan Click, a spokesman for the governor, said in an email. The parents of Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, do own a ranch in Montana. The couple was married there in 2008. A photo provided to the AP shows Newsom and his wife on their wedding day posing on the banks of the Bitterroot River on the ranch. Newsom has held press conferences on May 6, May 14 and May 18 in California. “He wasn’t in Montana to our knowledge,” Erin Loranger, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s press secretary, said in an email.
Newsom first issued his stay-home-order on March 19. The governor announced Monday that he would be relaxing the order. He said that counties would need to ask for state approval for restaurants to allow dining in and he suggested that it would be a few weeks before people could get haircuts. “Bottom line is: People can go at their own pace, and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials that understand their local communities and conditions,” Newsom said. It’s not the first time misinformation has swirled around a governor’s whereabouts during the pandemic. False posts also surfaced around Gov. Ralph Northam supposedly escaping to North Carolina in April.