Caitlyn Jenner’s campaign for the California governorship has its fair share of seasoned political consultants—but the person who keeps her other non-political ventures on track also appears to be benefiting from Jenner’s long-shot run.
As of the most recent filing, Jenner has paid $35,000 to Como Ventures LLC, an entity registered by her personal manager and roommate Sophia Hutchins, who has no apparent experience working in politics.
The Olympic star-turned-tabloid sensation’s Republican campaign made five payments to Como Ventures LLC, the most recent on August 15. The filing identifies the two largest payments, of $15,000 as going to “campaign consultants.” Smaller expenditures of $2,192.81, $1,300, and $825 as “candidate travel to New York for press event,” “security services,” and “meetings and appearances,” respectively.
Multiple outlets have reported that the Hutchins, 25, shares a residence with her famous friend and client in the elite Los Angeles suburb of Malibu—but the aspiring model has denied rumors that the two are romantically linked. The address listed in Como Ventures’ business filing matches a home in the exclusive enclave associated with Jenner, a location also linked to Hutchins’ own line of sunscreen.
The personal disclosure Jenner had to file with the state to seek elected office lists the candidate as a “passive investor” holding as much as $100,000 in stock in Hutchins’ skin-care products venture. The disclosure makes no reference to Como Ventures LLC.
Hutchins, who like Jenner is transgender, holds a bachelor’s of arts degree in economics. Her LinkedIn shows no career background in politics, although it notes she was class president at Pepperdine University during her freshman, sophomore, and junior years. Nonetheless, she maintained to The Daily Beast that she is highly qualified to serve on Jenner’s campaign.
“I find it insulting that a reporter would question the merits of a woman working in politics,” she wrote in an email. “As a political consultant with years of experience building grassroots support and fundraising for Republican causes, I have devoted my time to ensuring the recall of Gavin Newsom is successful and that he can no longer harm Californians ever again.”
Hutchins did not respond to a subsequent query about what past campaigns she has participated in. The Daily Beast could find no public record of her involvement in any previous California or federal election effort.
Ari Fleischer, the ex-White House press secretary contracted to represent the campaign, did not reply to repeated requests for comment. California ethics authorities opened a probe into fellow GOP candidate Larry Elder, a talk radio celebrity, last month after he failed to disclose his ownership interest in one company and income from several others as required by state law. Elder characterized the omissions as a “mistake.” If found to be in violation, Elder could be liable for thousands of dollars in penalties.
Beleaguered Golden State Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat elected by an overwhelming majority in 2018, is now struggling to keep his once-promising career afloat. Despite California’s deep-blue tint, many politicos believe that Republicans are more motivated to participate in the recall vote scheduled for Sept. 14. Newsom’s handling of the state’s wildfire and COVID-19 crises, as well his apparent hypocrisy in flouting pandemic restrictions by attending an indoor party at the elite Napa Valley restaurant French Laundry last year, have damaged his popularity among key voting blocs.
Should a majority of Californians mark “yes” on their recall ballots, Newsom’s term in office will end—and one of the 46 mostly Republican candidates will supplant him, even if they receive a tiny majority of the vote. That is to say that more Californians might vote to keep Newsom in place than support any of his would-be replacements, and yet his tenure could come to an early end if a majority favor removal. This is because, as the incumbent, he cannot run to succeed himself in his own recall.
Polls suggest the vote is uncomfortably close for Newsom, but that a slight majority supports allowing him to finish his term.
Jenner entered the race in April with a team of seasoned GOP veterans and considerable media fanfare. However, the luster on her candidacy swiftly dimmed, as critics characterized her run as a “publicity stunt” and she left the campaign trail during the crucial summer months to jet to Australia and star in the reality show Celebrity Big Brother. Jenner failed to win the support of LGBTQ community leaders, and has faced transphobic attacks from both the left and the right. Recent surveys indicate that Elder is the most likely Republican to assume Newsom’s job if the recall succeeds, with only 1 percent of voters backing Jenner.
An appearance on CNN on Tuesday found the contender struggling to juggle her claim to support “a woman’s right to choose” with her endorsement of Texas’s hard-line new anti-abortion law.
“I think that they have the right in their state to do what they want to do,” Jenner asserted. “Now do I agree with the decision or not? No. To be honest with you, I actually probably do not agree with the decision. But I agree that they do have the right to make their own decision.”
Jenner has insisted on the seriousness of her candidacy.