Gibbons, travel companion cause stir
February 24, 2010 - 12:00 am
CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons admitted Tuesday that a woman with whom he has been accused of having an affair accompanied him over the weekend to Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the National Governors Conference.
Gibbons repeatedly denied to a KLAS-TV, Channel 8, reporter — but then later admitted — that Kathy Karrasch went with him to Washington. She is one of the two women whom his estranged wife, Dawn, said in divorce documents had engaged in sexual relations with the governor.
In a statement to the station after the on-camera interview regarding his traveling with Karrasch, the governor apologized "for any ambiguity or confusion caused by my answers to your questioning of me late last night."
"I had just finished three days of arduous meetings and a cross-country flight when I was suddenly confronted with your questions," he said. "I admit I was briefly stunned to face your brazen inquiries about my personal life and, I hope understandably, I became defensive."
At one point in the interview at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the governor swore at TV reporter Jonathan Humbert.
Both Gibbons and Karrasch were interviewed separately by the station at different locations inside the airport.
Gibbons on camera denied that Karrasch was with him, though he eventually was seen leaving with her in his state-owned vehicle.
The incident is the latest distraction for the governor just as the Legislature began Tuesday what could be a heated and lengthy special session on how to address an $887 million shortfall to balance the state budget.
The governor and his wife agreed to a divorce settlement in a December court hearing.
The divorce was supposed to be finalized by the end of the month, but they have been unable to divide joint property because of their inability to raise capital through the sale of their Reno home and land in Elko County.
Dawn Gibbons in recent weeks accused her husband of lying on a loan application to refinance the loan on their Reno home.
In an interview last summer, Karrasch denied that her relationship with the governor was intimate.
"I think it is pathetic if people think something is going on sexually," said Karrasch, who was separated from her husband, a Reno doctor, at the time Jim Gibbons filed for divorce.
"Nothing sexual ever went on. We are platonic friends."
Karrasch could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
In a news conference in 2008, Jim Gibbons said that he never had sexual relations with Karrasch, whom he has known for more than 15 years.
But he agreed to reimburse the state $130 for using a state-owned cell phone to send 867 text messages to Karrasch. Some were sent from the Governor’s Mansion at 2 a.m., where he then was living with his wife.
After her husband filed for a no-fault divorce in May 2008, Dawn Gibbons moved to an apartment in a building next to the mansion. She has continued to perform the duties of first lady, even hosting events earlier this month.
Cal Dunlap, Dawn Gibbons’ lawyer, said the fact that the governor traveled with Karrasch will not affect the divorce "other than he may have been spending money that rightfully should have gone to his wife."
Jim Gibbons, under the divorce order, must pay Dawn Gibbons $265,000 by the end of the month.
Dunlap said there are "a lot of controversies remaining" before the divorce becomes final. He could not give a date when the divorce will be completed.
In his statement, Jim Gibbons said that none of Karrasch’s expenses was billed to the state and that she did not attend any National Governors Conference meetings.
"The fact she accompanied me added absolutely no taxpayer expenses," he said.
"Kathy Karrasch has been a long-time friend of mine and will continue to be a friend of mine."
Jim Gibbons criticized KLAS for stooping "to such a low level for something that is obviously not a news story and is merely meant to smear my name and reputation."
"What I do in my private life has nothing to do with my duties as governor," he added. "I would like to keep my private life just that–private."
Contact Review-Journal Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.