05.20.12

Elizabeth Keadle: Al Gore’s New Flame

He’s not yet divorced, but the former VP is said to be dating Elizabeth Keadle, an environmental advocate, horse enthusiast—and big Dem donor. Matthew DeLuca on what we know about Liz.

Al Gore has moved on. According to an article published by The Washington Post on Friday, the former vice president, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and speaker of truths not convenient has found himself a new lady friend. Gore has been tied to California activist and donor Elizabeth Keadle, according to the Post, and an unnamed close friend confirmed to ABC News that the two are dating “seriously.”

Keadle, whose full name is Mary Elizabeth Keadle, seems to be mostly a private figure, but she’s well known in Democratic circles, has donated to several of the party’s candidates, and like Gore is committed to environmental causes. Keadle’s occupation is listed as biochemist on donation forms, and she’s cited as a member of the president’s council at the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, which works to conserve the San Diego–area wetlands. Keadle (called Liz by her friends) has hosted events to support the conservancy’s efforts, according to a local newspaper.

In 2010, Keadle was mentioned in another local paper as one of the most generous donors to the Ocean Discovery Institute, a California-based environmental initiative for children. In 2008, the Elizabeth Keadle Fund at the San Diego Foundation gave a quarter of a million dollars to an environmental initiative based at the University of California, San Diego.

The raven-haired 50-something is said to be independently wealthy—although the provenance of her fortune isn’t quite clear. Keadle has been married once, to biotech entrepreneur Lyle Turner, founder and CEO of Invitrogen Corp., which developed genetic-research kits. She was identified in connection with Invitrogen in a 2002 San Diego Magazine article that also noted that the company had donated to Democratic candidates in the recent election cycle.

After her divorce from Turner, Keadle was linked with San Diego attorney Nick Leibham, a Democrat who ran to unseat Republican Brian Bilbray in California’s 50th Congressional District. Gore himself stumped for Leibham during the campaign, stopping by two fundraisers in Rancho Santa Fe, where Keadle is a longtime resident.

Described in the Post item as an “avid horsewoman,” Keadle owns the Clear Spring Farm in Rancho Santa Fe, a 10-acre equestrian property. She’s also a leading sponsor of the California Dressage Society’s San Diego chapter.

Gore and his wife, Tipper, had been high-school sweethearts, and by all accounts their announcement two years ago that they had decided to part came as a surprise even to those who knew the couple well. At the time, they wrote in an email that their separation was “a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration.” While both said there would be no further comment, sources told the Post that fault lines likely first began to appear 10 years earlier, when Gore saw the presidency snatched from his grasp.

It is unclear when Gore began dating Keadle, but sources told the Post that her relationship with Gore was not a factor in the couple’s decision to separate. Despite living separately, the Gores have not seemingly taken further steps toward divorce.

Apart from her romantic connections, Keadle has been a steady financial friend to the Democratic Party. In 2004, Keadle was one of more than three dozen top Democrats selected to sit on the committee that chose the location for the Democratic National Convention. On more-recent donations, including a $5,000 check to the Obama Victory Fund, she has listed her occupation as “self-employed investor.” Her largest run of donations to the Democratic Party came in 2002 and totaled more than $262,000.

Keadle and her ex-husband were reportedly early backers of Gore’s cable ambitions.

An article in the San Diego Reader notes that Keadle’s commitment to Democratic causes was just as strong while she was married to Turner, with the couple giving liberally to John Kerry’s presidential effort as well as to PACs managed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Gore. The article goes on to report that Keadle gave $245,000 over two years to the DNC’s building fund.

In 2008 Keadle cast one of 55 votes from California in the Electoral College pledged to Barack Obama’s ticket.

In another early link to the former VP, Keadle and her ex-husband Turner were reportedly early backers of Gore’s cable ambitions, helping him scoop up the channel that would become Current TV. More recently, the Californian traveled with Gore and other celebrities, activists, and researchers to Antarctica to raise awareness of climate change. Gore, of course, won his Nobel Prize in 2007 for his efforts to draw greater public attention to global warming.