California Governor Gavin Newsom, along with a number of top lobbyists in California, attended a lavish birthday party for a Democratic Party political operative in Napa on November 6, Politico reports.
The gathering celebrated the 50th birthday party of Jason Kinney, a lobbyist and close friend of the governor.
The dinner took place as businesses across California remain shuttered under coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions and California residents are prevented from gathering more than three families at a single household event. The Californian government is also warning residents not to attend Thanksgiving dinner this year to avoid spreading the virus.
The revelation also comes as the Golden State announces a series of new restrictions on businesses and gatherings, with 94 percent of Californian residents living in zones that are considered high risk.
Other guests in attendance include a number of officials from the California Medical Association, including CEO Dustin Corcoran and lobbyist Janus Norman.
Newsom's decision quickly received condemnation from both Democrats and Republicans. Republicans in particular have been critical of Newsom's pandemic-related restrictions, describing them as fundamentally authoritarian.
Newsom insists that he was not breaking state-mandated guidelines, arguing that the gathering took place at a restaurant and was technically outdoors. The event took place in what appears to be a fancily-decorated garage. Nevertheless, Newsom admitted that attending the event was a mistake.
“You can quibble about the guidelines, but the spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted. I’ve got to own that. So I want to apologize to you,” Newsom said at a press conference.
“You should expect nothing less from me, and I expect more from myself. And you have that commitment and my resolve in that respect as well,” Newsom said. “COVID fatigue is exhausting and I’m empathetic beyond words. I’m not here to browbeat anybody. I’m here to find our higher angels.”