California Governor Adviser Arrested for Trying to Suffocate 4-Year-Old with Pillow

Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom’s longtime friend and political adviser was arrested and placed in jail for allegedly trying to suffocate a 4-year-old with a pillow and shoving a woman into glass doors, according to Politico.

The well-known Democratic political strategist, Nathan Ballard, 51, was booked on October 18 for two felony charges of domestic violence and willful cruelty to a child with possible injury and death, according to Napa County Sheriff’s Office documents.

KGO-TV reported that Napa County authorities filed these charges on Thursday.

When Gavin Newsom was the mayor of San Francisco, Ballard served as his spokesperson. He was also a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, the California Democratic Party, the Getty family, the Golden State Warriors, the Super Bowl, and for the presidential campaigns of former Senator John Kerry and General Wesley Clark. Ballard is also a former San Francisco deputy city attorney.

Ballard also sat on the board of The Representation Project, a nonprofit founded by Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, to advance women’s rights, until the day of the alleged incident, October 19.

“I’ve spent my career in crisis communications fighting on behalf of the wrongfully accused, and now for the first time I really know what it feels like to be in their shoes,” Ballard told the outlet in a text message. “I will be exonerated. I love my children more than anything on earth, and we will be reunited.”

Ballard’s bail, which he paid, was set at $75,000. He was released later on October 20.

Ballard’s attorney, Anthony Brass, said that he’s “confident” that his client “will be fully acquitted of these charges after the District Attorney’s Office has a chance to review the facts and learn all sides of the story. Nate is a well-respected professional and a member of the bar with a spotless ethical record. He has no criminal history.”

Brass told KGO that “after nearly eight years of continuous sobriety, Nate resumed drinking in April, after his father died. He is now clean and sober again, and he is currently in a residential recovery program to deal with his drinking problem in a responsible, comprehensive manner. He is a good father, he has his children’s best interests at heart, and he wants to resolve this matter privately, quickly, and fairly for their sake.”

Brass also said that Ballard’s former wife “would testify under oath that he has never been violent toward her, their minor son, nor their minor daughter” — but hours later Brass said he had to retract that statement.

Spokespeople for Gavin Newsom have not responded to questions about Ballard’s arrest.

Politico also said Ballard — a father of four young children — was profiled in a November 2019 story in Better magazine as one of “the Bay Area’s most successful dads” and that he called his home in Kentfield “a special place for my wife Mara and me.”