Mayor's Affair Stuns San Francisco


Feb. 1, 2007 — -- Has San Francisco's love affair with its "Mayor McHottie" ended?

Sure, Gavin Newsom can date 20-year-old models and TV stars, but having an affair with one of his top aides' wife may have crossed the line for open-minded San Franciscans.

This afternoon, Newsom apologized for having a sexual relationship with Ruby Rippey-Tourk, his former campaign manager's wife.

"I'm deeply sorry," said the 39-year-old mayor during a brief news conference today. "I want to make it clear that everything you've read is true and I'm deeply sorry for that."

Yesterday afternoon, Alex Tourk resigned after confronting Newsom about the relationship with his wife, who once worked as the mayor's appointments secretary.

Political insiders predict that more revelations about the sex scandal could emerge, potentially damaging Newsom's re-election campaign. Still, his spokesman insists the mayor will run.

"The mayor is committed to working for the city, not just today but in the coming months and the coming years," mayoral spokesman Peter Ragone told, insisting that the mayor had no plans to resign.

Last fall, the city buzzed about Newsom's romance with Brittanie Mountz, a model and restaurant hostess. Earlier in the year, he had dated "CSI: Miami" star Sofia Milos, whom he escorted to several Hollywood galas.

This affair predated those flings, but took a long time to come to light.

Last week, Rippey-Tourk told her husband about the affair, which occurred about a year and a half ago, shortly before she reportedly entered a rehabilitation program for substance abuse. As part of the program, she was expected to be truthful to her husband and disclose any buried secrets.

At the time of the affair, Newsom was in the middle of divorcing his then-wife, Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle.

When Rippey-Tourk made her confession, Newsom was in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum. He returned to San Francisco on Tuesday, and the next day, Tourk confronted him about the relationship and tendered his resignation.

The meeting was especially emotional since Tourk has been one of Newsom's biggest supporters, say insiders. Newsom also offered his personal apology to Tourk, who left the city shortly after his resignation.

Meanwhile, the city waits for more shoes to drop in the burgeoning scandal, which could threaten to undo Newsom's re-election prospects and his political career.

Though Newsom has amassed a huge war chest to prepare for the upcoming mayoral campaign, he has stumbled badly in the last few months.

The mayor has been blamed for losing the city's marquee sports franchise, football's San Francisco 49ers. Because the city would not contribute funds for the construction of a new stadium along with some other issues, the beloved franchise is set to leave the city and move to Santa Clara. That decision also effectively ended the city's bid to land the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In addition, Newsom lost some political capital when the city's board of supervisors recently overruled a mayoral veto for the first time in his mayoralty.

Though the city tended to regard his romantic life with a wink and a nudge, the latest scandal has touched a raw nerve. Tourk was a well-liked official who was widely credited with the success of Newsom's strategy for dealing with the city's homelessness problem.

Most commentators on the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site were outraged at his behavior, which had been an open secret in political circles.

"I don't understand what everybody is so upset about! Who cares about values, morals or friendship?" wrote one person in a sarcastic post. "You go, Mr. Newsom! As long as YOU get everything YOU want, who cares about everybody else?"

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