California has banned state travel to states that have enacted anti-LGBTQ+ policies, though Mr Newsom is not on an official state trip
Mr Newsom did not use state funds to pay for the trip and thus has not violated any California rules.
Mr Newsom has made headlines in recent days by airing a television advertisement in Florida attacking Gov Ron DeSantis for his far right policies as governor. The ad placement has stirred talk that Mr Newsom might be lining up a run for president as soon as 2024.
The first-term governor, who is running for re-election this autumn, did not initially disclose his vacation destination as he has done in the past. Montana was one of the 20 states California initially banned “a state agency, department, board, or commission from requiring any state employees, officers, or members to travel to” on the basis of its discriminatory policies in 2015.
The Associated Press has reported that Mr Newsom’s wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s parents own a ranch in Montana and that the couple was married in the state in 2008.
Mr Newsom also faced scrutiny over his vacation coming just weeks after the US Supreme Court’s decision reversing Roe v Wade, when Mr Newsom’s office released a list of states that have enacted abortion bans or are likely to in the coming months. Montana was included on the latter list along with Florida, Indiana, and Nebraska, though it is not clear on what basis Mr Newsom’s office included the state.
Abortion is not banned in Montana: in fact the state’s high court has ruled that it is protected by its constitution. Montana has long enjoyed a reputation for relatively moderate governance, though that has changed somewhat in recent years with the election of right wing Gov Greg Gianforte and a more conservative state legislature.
Montana does have a 20-week abortion ban on the books, but it is not currently being enforced. Anti-abortion activists and a share of Republicans in the state are discussing pushing for a constitutional amendment banning abortions, but any such amendment would have to be approved by voters.
“Here in Montana, our work is just beginning,” Montana Family Foundation President Jeff Laszloffy said in the aftermath of the decision as quoted by the Montana Free Press. “[W]e must also amend our state Constitution, or nullify the Armstrong decision, which is, in essence, Montana’s version of Roe v. Wade.”
Mr Newsom is expected to travel back to California over the weekend and resume work on Monday.