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Do as I say, not as I do: California's top Democrats display their hypocrisy over COVID-19

Members of California's Democratic elected elite — including Governor Gavin Newsom, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker of the Nancy Pelosi — have been caught flouting the very restrictions they urge for others.

Updated: November 23, 2020 - 1:45pm

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Ronna McDaniel, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, summed it up succinctly in a single tweet.

"Gavin Newsom at a posh restaurant. Dianne Feinstein not wearing a mask. Nancy Pelosi at the salon," she wrote on Twitter. "The list goes on and on with Democrat leaders from California and beyond saying: Lockdowns and restrictions for thee, but not for me!"

Indeed they are. California has enacted some of the most strict restrictions in an effort to battle COVID-19 — but they don't appear to apply to politicians who call the state home.

Last Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared he was pulling the "emergency brake" on reopening the state's economy, saying the virus was surging.

"We are sounding the alarm," Newsom said. "California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet — faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes."

Newsom put 41 of the state's 58 counties in the strictest — purple — of the four-tier system for reopening that is based on virus cases and infection rates. That accounted for 37 million people. The move halted all reopening plans, banned indoor worship and forced most indoor businesses to close. Schools were also shut down.

But the new restrictions didn't apply to Newsom.

The Democrat and his wife attended a birthday party on Nov. 6, along with a dozen friends, at the expensive French Laundry restaurant in Napa north of San Francisco. The governor said the dinner was outdoors, but pictures show something very different.

"We've obtained photos of Governor Gavin Newsom at the Napa dinner party he's in hot water over," FOX-11 in Los Angeles reported. "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."

No one at the table was wearing a mask or practicing social distancing, even though Newson has been urging both for months.

The scandal got so bad Newsom finally apologized. "I made a bad mistake," he said. "I should have stood up and ... drove back to my house. The spirit of what I'm preaching all the time was contradicted. I need to preach and practice, not just preach."

D'Lee Daleo, co-owner of Switch Fitness in Elk Grove, Calif., told the Associated Press that the politicians making the rules don't understand the hardship they create for business owners.

"They have no idea what it's like to be a regular person who wakes up every day and goes to work," said Daleo, who the AP said has been struggling to keep the boutique fitness studio open. "It shows they're elitist, and we're just little peons who are supposed to do whatever they tell us to do."

Then there was the pack of state legislators who serve in the California State Legislature who — on the day Newsom announced his new "purple" restrictions — flew off to Hawaii to attend a conference. In fact, their trips, paid for by lobbyists — which raises a whole other set of questions — came just three days after Newsom issued a travel advisory that urged residents not to travel.

While the bipartisan group of lawmakers — who stayed at the elite Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea, where rooms start at more than $500 per night — defended the trip, "observers say it sends the wrong message for legislators to leave the state and gather at a resort when COVID-19 cases are surging, leading to tougher restrictions on the movement of average residents," the Los Angeles Times reported.

"In normal times it is an abuse of office to have oil, utility and other big companies that lobby in the Capitol paying for an Hawaiian getaway replete with golf, hula show and mai tais," Jamie Court, president of the group Consumer Watchdog, told the Times. "In COVID times, it is an abomination that legislators would break quarantine to play in the sun at a four-star resort."

Then there was Rep. Nancy Pelosi. The California Democrat, 80, who serves as Speaker of the House, has long advocated full lockdowns and a national mask policy. Then she was caught dropping into a hair salon in California — ordered closed by the governor — and walking around without a mask.

In security footage obtained by Fox News, Pelosi was seen walking through the eSalon in San Francisco on Aug. 31. Ironically, during an appearance on MSNBC that same night, Pelosi blasted President Trump for delivering his Republican National Convention acceptance speech before a live audience on the White House South Lawn where many people were not wearing masks.

Salon owner Erica Kious told Fox News shortly after Pelosi got caught: "It was a slap in the face that she went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can't work."

Like Newsom, the scandal blew up and forced Pelosi to apologize. Sort of. In reality, she said she was set up by a political foe — and said she is the one who is owed an apology.

"I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I've been to over the years many times, and when they said, 'We're able to accommodate people one person at a time.' I trusted that," the Speaker said. "So I take responsibility for falling for a setup. And that's all I'm going to say on that. I think that this salon owes me an apology, for setting me up."

Just this month, Pelosi was caught again, this time setting up a posh indoor banquet to welcome the new class of Democratic lawmakers of Congress.

Pelosi said it was all good, though, declaring the venue "very spaced." She even went so far as to say that the Capitol's chief physician had signed off on the banquet.

Once again, Pelosi said she did nothing wrong.

"Our office strictly follows the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician, including for this dinner,"  Drew Hammill, her deputy chief of staff, wrote on Twitter. 

But then she called the whole thing off. "To be a further model for the nation, this event has been modified to allow Members-elect to pick up their meals to go in a socially-distanced manner ... There is no group dinner," Hammill wrote.

And who can forget Sen. Dianne Feinstein, another California Democrat for whom the rules simply don't apply.

In September, the 87-year-old was caught not wearing a mask while inside an airport, even though she has called for a mandatory rule to require all airline passengers to wear masks.

Feinstein was spotted without a mask at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, pictures of which Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired on his show. She was seen near a man wearing a face mask as she walked through Signature Flight Support, a terminal that services passengers who are flying on private aircraft.

Shortly before the sighting, Feinstein penned a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration. "I write to urge you to implement a mandatory mask policy for all airport and airline employees and passengers as cases of coronavirus continue to surge," she wrote. "I ask that you issue guidance as soon as possible so passengers can have a clear understanding of the requirements and so that we may reduce exposure for workers and travelers alike."

"While some transit agencies and airlines have implemented mandatory mask guidance for the public," she continued, "reports indicate that the patchwork of rules have only sowed confusion among passengers. Therefore, I ask that you issue clear, nationwide, mandatory mask requirements for all aviation employees and travelers."

Carlson had a field day with the photos.

"Well, given that, today, this show exclusively obtained photographs of, and this is going to rock your world, Dianne Feinstein in a private terminal at Dulles airport, an FBO [Fixed Base Operator] as they say in private aviation, on Friday," Carlson said. "In the photographs, Feinstein can be seen smiling without a mask on."

"One might even say she's sowing confusion about whether or not masks are necessary," Carlson said with understated glee. 

"This isn't really Dianne Feinstein's fault," Carlson snarked. "Just like when the hair salon framed Nancy Pelosi, caught not wearing a mask while getting her hair done. Dulles Airport, the diabolical FBO, probably masterminded the whole thing."