David Boies gave Newsom one of the bottles, priced at $300, weeks after revelations that the lawyer led a covert smear campaign against women who had accused Weinstein of sexual assault. The embattled Democratic governor took the gift even as others cut ties with Boies because of his dirty work for Weinstein. The New York Times fired Boies in November 2017 as one of its lawyers in a defamation case because of the scandal.
The gifts add a new layer of intrigue to accusations that Newsom’s wife helped Boies try to kill negative stories about Weinstein. In the closing days of a tougher-than-expected recall vote, actress Rose McGowan claimed Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, contacted her on behalf of Boies in 2017, as the actress was working with the Times on a story about Weinstein’s history of sexual abuse. McGowan said that Siebel Newson, a former actress, told her that “David Boies wants to know what it would take to make you happy.”
In a video endorsing Newsom’s recall, McGowan called the California first couple “frauds” and said they were “on the side of wrong.” Newsom’s office did not respond to requests for comment about McGowan’s allegations or the gifts from Boies. Neither Boies nor his firm responded to requests for comment.
Newsom has claimed to be a staunch ally of the #MeToo movement, though he was at the center of his own sex scandal as mayor of San Francisco. He admitted to having an affair in 2007 with a subordinate who was married to his chief campaign adviser. Newsom said during his gubernatorial bid in 2018 that he had “learned an enormous amount” from the scandal. He also said the #MeToo movement was “a profound opportunity to address deeper issues.”
Siebel Newsom has also championed the #MeToo movement, even accusing Weinstein of behaving inappropriately with her at a film festival years before allegations against the disgraced producer came to light. In a column for the Huffington Post on Oct. 6, 2017, Siebel Newsom criticized “the entire engine of Harvey Weinstein’s business and legal machines” that she said had worked to silence his accusers.
Boies and his firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, played a central role in the cover up for Weinstein.
The New Yorker reported in November 2017 that Boies hired a private intelligence firm, Black Cube, to find derogatory information about Weinstein’s accusers in order to stop publication of a New York Times report about his sexual misconduct.
Newsom accepted a $300 bottle of wine from Boies on Dec. 8, 2017, more than a month after reports that the lawyer tried to smear Weinstein’s victims. Boies also gave wine to Newsom, a known wine connoisseur, in 2016, 2017, and 2020, according to Newsom’s financial disclosures. The bottles ranged in value from $125 to $300.
Newsom has another connection to Boies. Newsom’s brother-in-law is Joshua Schiller, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner. Schiller was arrested on Jan. 14 in California on charges of assaulting his wife, who is the sister of Jennifer Siebel Newsom. The charge against Schiller was dropped in April after prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to prove the case in court.
Newsom’s recall election will be held on Sept. 14.