On Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Governor Gavin Newsom violated state health guidelines and attended a birthday party with over a dozen people of differing households at the famed French Laundry restaurant in Napa County.
The party was held for longtime Newsom political advisor and Axiom Advisors lobbyist Jason Kinney at the famed Michelin-starred restaurant in Yountville. Held on the night of November 6th, many other notable Californians, including Newsom’s wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom, were also in attendance.
New guidelines by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released in October did allow for small gatherings to be allowed, but also said to include no more than three households due to the higher risk presented to spreading COVID-19. According to those at the party, there was more than the state maximum attending last week.
After the story broke early Friday, representatives for Newsom and Kinney immediately attempted to downplay the violations, noting that the party was outside with proper COVID-19 precautions being taken such face masks on all guests.
“This was a small, intimate, 12-person dinner held outdoors with family and a few close friends to celebrate a 50th birthday,” said Kinney representative Molly Weedn on Friday to the press, noting that all health and safety protocols were also being followed.
However, many, both Republicans and Democrats alike, soon criticized the Governor for failing to follow guidelines he himself has touted for a month and for not leading by example during a crisis.
Some, such as RNC Committeewoman and Attorney Harmeet Dhillon directly contradicted Newsom’s actions last week with an earlier announcement on severely restricting Thanksgiving celebrations in California.
“Oh…but no Thanksgiving for you,” tweeted Dhillon.
Oh … but no Thanksgiving for you! https://t.co/xtTmoDcg1n
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) November 13, 2020
Continued backlash against Newsom
The continued backlash led to Newsom releasing a statement.
“While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner,” said Governor Newsom in a statement.
As of Friday evening, many are still continuing to question the Governor over his decision to attend.
“It was only a few weeks ago that Newsom was chastising people for taking their masks off, getting a lot of people together, and generally ignoring protocols,” said Rhea Powers, a Los Angeles-based publicist who specializes in lawmakers, to the Globe. “Now he’s breaking it himself.
“It’s not the worst way possible. By all accounts, the party was social distanced and was following every other state protocol there. If it had been some other politician, they probably would have been ok.
“But this is the Governor, who has led by example. Even worse, he just gave speeches against this very thing. So it hurts him, makes him look like a hypocrite. And, by doing this at the French Laundry of all places, which is one of the top restaurants in the world and costs hundreds for even a basic meal there, it makes him look out of touch and as someone elite who doesn’t have to play by the rules.”
“President Trump got a lot of guff earlier this year for not wearing a mask in many situations, and Democrats had a field day with that. But for a Governor who has made these guidelines a bedrock of his Governorship, and now breaks them in the most ostentatious way possible? It really hurts him. And it can be even worse down the line in 2022 when his actions during COVID-19 are brought up.”
Many political experts have since added the Newsom will likely make a more formal apology for the incident sometime this weekend.”