New details emerge about lockdown-flouting party as Newsom takes fire from both sides
Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is in hot water with California Republicans over his extravagant lunch taken at one of California wine country’s most exclusive fine-dining establishments. Pictures have surfaced of Newsom at a table full of people who were maskless, laughing and drinking boisterously. It is being reported they were so loud they had to close the glass sliding doors. Meanwhile, the good people of California are on lockdown with mandates stating that they have to wear masks at home and skip their holiday gatherings among a long list of other measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Both sides of the political aisle are criticizing Newsom for what he deemed as a ‘bad mistake’. In the end, this could cost him politically and no one would be surprised.
The incident took place more than a week ago and Newsom’s critics have laid into him ever since for violating his own COVID-19 restrictions to celebrate a well-connected friend’s birthday — a friend that is a lobbyist.
“He’s the one telling people to change their Thanksgiving plans — yet he himself is gathering privately at an expensive restaurant that many Californians can’t afford,” Republican State Assemblyman James Gallagher told Fox News Wednesday night.
The French Laundry is a ritzy restaurant that offers tastings that begin at $350 a plate. The elegant hangout hosted Newsom, his wife, and others for a birthday brunch honoring Jason Kinney, a lobbyist, and friend of the governor for more than 20 years.
Also attending was ironically the CEO of the California Medical Association and that organization’s top lobbyist. In a statement, a spokesman for the association, which represents and lobbies for some 50,000 California physicians, said that the two attended as friends of Mr. Kinney and that “the dinner was held in accordance with state and county guidelines.”
Newsom has been in the news lately urging Californians to wear their masks between bites while eating out. But a diner at another table photographed him doing exactly the opposite and then sent the pictures to Fox LA.
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
Newsom has also been admonishing residents to avoid social gatherings with people from outside their immediate households. The governor apologized and said he needs “to preach and practice, not just preach.”
Earlier this month, Assemblyman Gallagher successfully sued Newsom for overstepping his gubernatorial authority by ordering counties to mail all eligible voters mail-in ballots. After the restaurant incident, he accused Newsom of attempting a cover-up. In his initial apology, Newsom falsely claimed the meal had been outdoors. The pictures of Newsom’s meal show the table was enclosed on at least three sides.
Gallagher called out the governor on his behavior:
“Most of our cases are coming from private gatherings – weddings, family gatherings, celebrations,” he said. “It’s hard to force a free society to stop people from gathering. As we’ve seen from the governor, even he himself has a hard time avoiding private gatherings.”
Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer and a California GOP committeewoman, said the governor’s night out had a “Marie Antoinette feel to it – ‘let them eat cake.’”
“I’m a lawyer who has sued the governor, but I’m still following the rules while fighting them,” Dhillon told Fox News Wednesday night. “Not just blowing them off like the governor is doing.”
“Eating with a bunch of lobbyists at an expensive restaurant, this is at the same time that you’ve put half of California out of work,” Dhillon stated. “Add up drinks and appetizers — their meal per person was more than the monthly unemployment check.”
State Sen. Shannon Grove, head of the Republican Caucus in her chamber posted a “Pop Quiz” on Twitter:
Pop Quiz: In California, $350 is equal to:
(𝐚) one week’s unemployment check for millions of California workers
(𝐛) the cost of Gavin Newsom’s dinner at Napa’s French Laundry restaurant
(𝐜) both of the above.
— Senator Shannon Grove (@ShannonGroveCA) November 18, 2020
“In California, $350 is equal to: (a) one week’s unemployment check for millions of California workers (b) the cost of Gavin Newsom’s dinner at Napa’s French Laundry restaurant or (c) both of the above,” she wrote.
Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer called Newsom’s decision to attend the dinner “a big mistake” that she trusts won’t happen again.
“In the future, when critics of lobbyists make their case, this dinner will be Exhibit A,” Claremont McKenna College politics professor Jack Pitney stated.
“Newsom and the first partner eschewed state public health guidelines to dine with friends at a time when the governor has asked families to scale back Thanksgiving plans,” wrote the Sacramento Bee editorial board on Friday. It added, “If the governor can eat out with friends — and if his children can attend their expensive school — why must everyone else sacrifice?”
The mainstream media for the most part is ignoring Newsom’s upper crust dining experience. Both CNN and MSNBC offered minimal coverage of the governor’s optics fiasco and MSNBC spent even less time talking about it.