California Watch reporter Kyle Finck, with some help from colleague Lance Williams, asks a very good question in his item headline today. Namely, “Why Did a Russian Billionaire Give Newsom a $400 Pen?”
The deluxe Louis Vuitton writing instrument came to the former San Francisco mayor and current Lieutenant Governor via the 77th richest person in the world, 44-year-old “fertilizer king” Dmitry Rybolovlev. This particular Russian magnate lives in Geneva and made headlines when he bought a Palm Beach, Florida estate from Donald Trump. After a few phone calls, Finck discovered the following:
As Rybolovlev’s address, Newsom listed an office suite on Sansome Street in downtown San Francisco. It’s actually occupied by a local travel agency…
California Watch sought Rybolovlev’s account of why he gave Newsom a gift and how he was connected to the Sansome Street address, but his lawyers declined comment. Officials of Casto Travel, which occupies the business suite listed as Rybolovlev’s address, denied any involvement with the billionaire.
Besides the no longer valid business address, further digging by Finck led to a source that confirmed the billionaire’s fall visit and a possible “discrepancy” on Newsom’s 2010 Statement of Economic Interest.
Previously on FishbowlLA:
Berkeley Journalists Shake Up California’s Public Schools