Newsom to pay for ex-aide's severance 

After admitting to his campaign manager that he had an affair with his wife, Mayor Gavin Newsom reportedly promised Alex Tourk that he would continue to receive his $15,000-a-month salary until he found another job. On Wednesday evening, Newsom’s campaign announced where that paycheck would come from — the mayor’s own pocket.

Since the revelations of Newsom’s affair with Ruby Rippey-Tourk and Alex Tourk’s resignation, Newsom’s campaign team had been investigating whether severance payments to Tourk from campaign funds would be legal under campaign finance law. On Monday, Newsom walked away from a reporter who asked if he would be willing to pay Tourk’s severance with his own money.

But on Wednesday the Newsom camp backed away from the complicated legal — and perhaps ethical — question of whether funds raised for the mayor’s re-election campaign should be used to pay the salary of a former top aide who left under such unusual circumstances.

"Gavin Newsom made a personal commitment to Alex Tourk that Alex would not suffer financially from resigning his job with the campaign," said Jim Sutton, the attorney for Newsom’s re-election campaign, in a statement. "The mayor told Alex that he would be paid until he found a new job.

"Campaign finance law is unclear on this issue, so Gavin Newsom has decided the simplest and most appropriate way to fulfill his commitment is to personally pay any remaining salary owed to Alex."

Tourk has not been paid any money from the Newsom re-election campaign since he resigned, the statement from the campaign said. The statement also said Newsom will pay Tourk his salary until Tourk secures his next job.

Tourk is fielding many job offers from corporations and nongovernmental groups, according to Sam Singer, who is acting as Tourk’s spokesman.

The Newsom campaign stressed that there was no confidentiality agreement involved with the mayor’s payment to Tourk. Eric Jaye, Newsom’s chief campaign consultant, said such an agreement would be "absurd" because the facts of the story had been "printed in every newspaper in the country."

beslinger@examiner.com

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