By Magda Ibrahim , THE SUN UK
November 19, 2020
EIGHT California lawmakers are facing a furious backlash after flying to Hawaii for a conference despite health officials warning against out-of-state travel amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
The row has erupted as Governor Gavin Newsom continues to receive criticism for attending a birthday dinner at a fancy Michelin-starred French restaurant in Napa Valley.
The lawmakers at the conference include (L-R): assembly members Jordan Cunningham; Frank Bigelow; Wendy Carrillo; Heath Flora; Chad Mayes; Jose Medina and Blanca Rubio, as well as State Senator Andreas Borgeas
Critics have blasted the decision by the politicians – who include at least seven California assembly members and one state senator – to fly to the luxury beachfront Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel resort in Maui for the meeting.
The four-day conference comes amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases across the US, and kicked off the same day that 94 per cent of California’s population were put under the state's most restrictive purple Covid-19 tier.
“This is ‘do as I say, not as I do’,” Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn, told the LA Times.
“This is one of the reasons there is a complete disconnect between ordinary citizens in California and the political leadership.”
Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, also gave the conference short shrift, calling it an “abuse of office”.
“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,” Mr Court told the LA Times.
The eight politicians accused of hypocrisy for attending the conference at the $500-a-night Wailea resort include assembly members Frank Bigelow; Wendy Carrillo; Jordan Cunningham; Heath Flora; and Chad Mayes.
Assembly members Jose Medina and Blanca Rubio, as well as State Senator Andreas Borgeas, have also been identified as among the 75 attendees at the conference – hosted by the Independent Voter Project (IVP).
“In Covid times, it is an abomination that legislators would break quarantine to play in the sun at a resort,” added Consumer Watchdog president Mr Court.
“You can have a discussion about opening safely on Zoom if you don't care about the golf, the beach and the [cocktails].
“This has and will always be a world-class junket. This year it's also a lethal one that shows disrespect for the quarantine and those hunkering down to do the right thing.”
It comes after Governor Gavin Newsom attracted criticism for attending a birthday dinner with at least 10 people at The French Laundry, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Napa Valley, on November 6.
Fox 11 obtained pictures of the California Governor sitting in close quarters with no face mask on, during a 50th-birthday bash for one of his advisors.
“Participants are discussing how to safely re-open larger sectors of the economy and the discussion suddenly became more urgent with Newsom's announcement on Monday,” he said.
“Simply shutting down 95 percent of the state might've made sense back in April or May, but we understand so much more now than we did then. We're way past blanket solutions.”