NeNe Leakes’ close relationship with a USDA director named Rodney White is raising eyebrows within social circles, sources tell Page Six.
Sources allege that while NeNe and her husband, Gregg Leakes, had been fighting publicly, the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star was getting close to White.
NeNe, 53, and White, 54, have reportedly been “family friends” for years — prior to her finding reality TV stardom — but a source said the pair began spending more time together since late 2017 and they have been spotted together several times.
“People close to him have said that it’s all about the lifestyle,” a source said. “If it wasn’t for that, he wouldn’t give her the time of day … because he didn’t before when she was a nobody. He knew her before she became the NeNe Leakes that she is today and before the multiple surgeries to change her looks.”
More than a year after rumblings first began, a source spotted NeNe and White having dinner at Bâoli in Miami in early January 2019. Meanwhile, Gregg, 65, was battling stage 3 colon cancer in Atlanta.
During that Miami trip, another source said they saw NeNe with a “tall, handsome black man” at South Beach hotspot E11EVEN, where photos are not allowed.
“They were all over each other,” a source said. “They were touching each other, laughing, giggling, kissing, but it wasn’t like they were full-blown slobbering down. I don’t think she was trying to hide it.”
Another eyewitness added, “She was all over this guy. Kissing, cuddling, holding, sitting on his lap.”
The following month, NeNe shared on Instagram that she and Gregg were the “newest American Cancer Society Ambassadors.”
Aside from these sightings in the Sunshine State, the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” fixture’s co-stars may also be aware of White.
“Marlo [Thompson] knows who this man is. Cynthia [Bailey] knows who this man is. Eva [Marcille] has seen them together,” the source alleged.
White is from Maryland and works in upper management for the United States Department of Agriculture, but a source alleged that NeNe entices him with Hollywood perks while he continues to keep her company.
“He loves the limelight,” the source claims. “He loves to have the red carpet rolled out. He feels like he’s a celebrity. He’s that type of person.”
On November 24, White posted a photo of himself at the “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” clubhouse, the same day NeNe had a guest appearance on the late-night talk show alongside Kelly Rowland.
He also shared on Instagram that he accompanied the reality star to her “Good Morning America” appearance in February 2019.
According to a source, NeNe not only brings White to work functions, but also to dinners and events with her celebrity pals, including on-again, off-again friend Wendy Williams.
A source alleged that a photo NeNe shared on Oct. 6 of her hanging out with Williams, 55, — tagged #girlsniteout— was cropped because White was also at the dinner table.
On Oct. 5 — the day prior to NeNe’s post —White shared a photo of himself from Tao Downtown, a restaurant in New York with similar decor to what’s seen in NeNe’s photo, although it appears he subsequently deleted the post.
One month later, Williams shared she reunited with the “Real Housewives” star in New York on Nov. 23. White posted a video from Philippe Chow in Manhattan on Nov. 24.
In the video, a voice that sounds like NeNe can be heard saying, “Thank you, baby! Turn the f— up! Turn it up!” The voice then joked, “It caught my wig on fire,” as dessert was being lit.
Williams, 55, did not return Page Six’s request for comment.
Aside from Miami and New York, the pair have also been seen mingling in Maryland, a source tells us, where NeNe opened Swagg Boutique.
On social media, White has shared several photos of himself at the MGM National Harbor Resort and Casino in Oxon Hill, Maryland, where NeNe has her store — which Gregg manages.
In March, a source exclusively told us that NeNe “flaunts her relationship with [White] around openly like they’re together.”
“She spends a lot of time in Maryland not only because of this boutique, but also because of [White],” the source alleged.
NeNe once commented with several heart-eye emojis under a now-deleted picture of White outside of MGM.
Recently, NeNe has spoken publicly in favor of open marriages.
“If Gregg wanted to go be with somebody right now, I would say go right on,” she told the “Lip Service” podcast in March. “Why am I going to try and keep him from doing something that he wants to do?”
“Then I have to make a choice myself — if I want to stay with him or not — and I probably would stay with him,” she added. “I do what I want anyway … I’m in New York, he’s in Georgia, so whatever he’s doing, I don’t need to know about it.”
The Bravo staple later appeared to backtrack, though, insisting that she and Gregg are not dating other people.
“No, it is not [open],” she told “Extra” on April 10. “I think the reason why people think that is, first of all, they see there is an age difference between Gregg and I … Now they think that since he has gotten older, ‘Are they doing anything in the bedroom?’ Well, the answer to that question is we’re doing a lot in the bedroom.”
She added, “I am a flirt and my husband knows that. I like to flirt, I like men, but I’m not sleeping with these men, and my husband is very much okay with that.”
However, because of NeNe’s frequent sightings with White — without Gregg present — sources have speculated whether NeNe and White have more than just a friendship.
Publicly, NeNe and Gregg claim to have a loving marriage, but they have also been transparent about their struggles.
They first married in 1997, but divorced in 2011 before remarrying in 2013.
In April 2019, NeNe admitted the pair were once again considering divorce. They had just come off a difficult period in which NeNe struggled to take care of Gregg while he battled stage 3 colon cancer.
“It would be easy to make a decision about divorcing Gregg if he didn’t have cancer,” NeNe said in April 2019. “I don’t want to live my life unhappy.”
“The reward might not be necessarily be that we are husband and wife at the end,” Gregg added. “The reward might be that we are best friends at the end.”
However, Gregg’s behavior has also raised eyebrows. He was accused of texting and FaceTiming with a woman named Juanita Marshall, who worked as a manager at Swagg Boutique, last year.
In March, NeNe openly talked about the allegations on the “Lip Service” podcast, saying she went “insane” when she confronted Gregg and subsequently let go of Marshall.
However, Marshall exclusively told us, “I left willingly because at the time it was just out of hand. It was too much drama for me, so I decided not to stay. I walked away from the position.”
Sources speculate Gregg and NeNe have a marital arrangement because of their finances.
“[NeNe and Gregg’s] relationship is pretty much a business relationship,” a source told us. “NeNe has ideas, and Gregg can execute those ideas, and that’s the only reason why they are together.”
Another source added, “When she remarried him, she did not put his name on that house that she owns, so he is not on the deed. He is not working, and she said out of her own mouth at the reunion that if she does not travel, Gregg does not eat.”
Page Six obtained property records for NeNe’s current home in Georgia that confirms Gregg’s name is not on the deed.
And the “RHOA” star did say on the Season 11 reunion, “I am a provider, if I didn’t travel Gregg wouldn’t be eating while he was sick.”
“So that means that she is taking care of him,” the source said, adding that they believe Gregg is aware of NeNe’s closeness with White. “I think he is OK with it.”
A separate source alleged that part of the reason NeNe won’t end her friendship with White — a 6-foot-3 government worker who is nearly a decade younger than her husband — is because she is envious of what the other “Real Housewives” have.
“She knows deep down that [White] could never give her what she’s seeking —and that’s love, but she’s trying because all of the other ladies on the show have young men that look nice and they’re not Gregg,” the source said.
NeNe, White and Gregg did not return multiple requests for comment.