Earlier this week, California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom landed in hot water after attending a dinner party at a swanky Napa Valley restaruant with several other people and not a mask to be seen.
The scandal has exploded, Politico reports, following the discovery that photos of the event showed at least two top officials from the California Medical Association flouting the pandemic health orders imposed on citizens while dining with Newsom:
CEO Dustin Corcoran and top CMA lobbyist Janus Norman both joined the dinner at the French Laundry, an elite Napa fine dining restaurant, to celebrate the 50th birthday of lobbyist and longtime Newsom adviser Jason Kinney, a representative of the powerful interest group confirmed Wednesday morning.
The presence of CMA brass could amplify criticisms of the dinner occurring despite coronavirus restrictions that have limited Californians’ movements and constrained businesses.
The CMA has long been a powerful presence in the state Capitol, and its Sacramento officials are longtime friends with Kinney. The group spent $2.1 million last year lobbying state leaders.
At the time, the group claimed that their dinner did not violate the state’s coronavirus guidelines as it was held outside. A witness, however, revealed to Fox LA that sliding glass doors had to be closed around the party because of how loud the group was.
EXCLUSIVE: We've obtained photos of Governor Gavin Newsom at the Napa dinner party he's in hot water over. The photos call into question just how outdoors the dinner was. A witness who took photos tells us his group was so loud, the sliding doors had to be closed. 10pm on @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/gtOVEwa864
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 18, 2020
The dinner party fiasco is intensified by the fact that both Newsom’s office and the CMA have specifically called on the Californian public not only to wear masks but even to keep them on between bites during meals in public.
“Anyone who wants businesses to reopen and schools to open in the fall should wear a mask,” the CMA tweeted in June. “Anyone who wants to slow the spread of COVID-19 should wear a mask. Anyone who wants to protect themselves, their neighbor and their community should wear a mask. Wear a mask.”
“Going out to eat with members of your household this weekend?” Newsom’s office tweeted just last month. “Don’t forget to keep your mask on in between bites. Do your part to keep those around you healthy.”
Going out to eat with members of your household this weekend? Don't forget to keep your mask on in between bites.
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) October 3, 2020
On Monday, Newsom apologized for the hypocritical move, according to the LA Times.
“I want to apologize to you because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice, and I’ve done my best to do that,” Newsom said. “We’re all human. We all fall short sometimes.”
“Newsom acknowledged that the faux pas may result in a loss of his moral authority on the coronavirus as California experiences a major surge in cases,” the Times adds. “The governor discussed his own behavior on the same day that he announced a reversal of his reopening plans and ordered 28 counties to return to the purple tier — 94% of Californians will be under the state’s most restrictive guidelines as of Tuesday.”
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a prominent Californian Republican who has been urged to consider challenging Newsom for governor in 2022, denounced Newsom’s double standards during the pandemic.
His kids can learn in person. But yours can’t.
He can celebrate birthday parties. But you can’t.
He can dine on a $350 meal at one California’s fanciest restaurants during the worst recession in generations. But you definitely can’t.
Can you believe this? I can’t. https://t.co/lmRBWh9rpS
— Kevin Faulconer (@Kevin_Faulconer) November 14, 2020
“His kids can learn in person. But yours can’t,” Faulconer wrote. “He can celebrate birthday parties. But you can’t. He can dine on a $350 meal at one of California’s fanciest restaurants during the worst recession in generations. But you definitely can’t. Can you believe this? I can’t.”
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