The turmoil of 2020 provided progressive politicians with unprecedented ability to exercise their power over the population. This carried with it unparalleled opportunities for them to flout the same rules they imposed on everyone else.
Though not an exhaustive list, below are some of the most egregious examples of Democratic politicians who saw fit to blow off their own edicts during the past year.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was called out more than once in 2020 for disregarding the especially strict lockdown orders of both Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, the cities she most frequents.
Pelosi sparked outrage in September when footage emerged showing her walking maskless through a San Francisco hair salon that had been shuttered for six months under the city’s onerous restrictions. Hours later, after she had gotten her hair done, she was on MSNBC claiming that President Donald Trump had “slapped science right in the face” by holding the Republican National Convention at the White House without enough masks and adequate social distancing.
Erica Kious, the salon owner, told Fox News, “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.” She added that she “can’t believe” Pelosi was not wearing a mask. Pelosi responded by blaming Kious and claiming she only took responsibility “for falling for a setup.”
.@PressSec Kayleigh McEnany: "We found Nancy Pelosi going into her hair salon. We will be playing the video on loop for all of you to see during the duration of this introduction…Apparently the rules do not apply to Speaker Nancy Pelosi."
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 3, 2020
By contrast, when San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post at around the same time, claiming that the city government was using the pandemic to restrict the right to worship, Pelosi scolded him, urging him to “follow science” on the issue.
In November, the speaker stoked ire again when she planned a lavish in-person dinner at the Capitol for the incoming Democratic members of Congress. “It’s very spaced,” Pelosi assured reporters, according to The Washington Post, though she backtracked when the public expressed outrage.
“A few hours later, amid a furious backlash on social media — including from people who questioned why they were not allowed to bury their dead while lawmakers attended fancy parties — Pelosi canceled the dinner, turning it into a takeout meal instead,” the Post reported.
House Dem and GOP leaders are holding respective dinners for new members.
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) November 13, 2020
California Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose state bears the distinction of having both one of the highest COVID-19 rates and one of the strictest lockdowns, arguably took the cake for Democrat hypocrisy in 2020 when he was caught dining indoors with a group of maskless people at The French Laundry. The opulent Napa Valley restaurant charges $1,200 per person for a white truffle and caviar dinner.
According to award-winning journalist Adam Housely, 22 guests attended the ritzy feast in November and racked up a $15,000 tab at the Michelin 3-star restaurant, which somehow received more than $2.4 million in COVID-19 relief funds. Newsom’s spokesperson initially claimed the governor was sure to stay outside during the event, but photos proved otherwise, and Newsom eventually apologized.
“I want to apologize to you because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice, and I’ve done my best to do that,” Newsom said. “We’re all human. We all fall short sometimes.”
“As soon as I sat down at the larger table I realized it was a little larger group than I had anticipated and I made a bad mistake,” he continued. “Instead of sitting down, I should have stood up and walked back, got in my car and drove back to my house.”
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
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham reportedly defied her own lockdown order against non-essential businesses in May when she ordered a jewelry store to open for her own convenience, according to local outlet KRQE News 13.
After advising New Mexicans in early April to venture out only for essentials such as food, Grisham called Lilly Barrack on Paseo to order expensive jewelry. “The jewelry was bought over the phone, but the employee went to the store, got the jewelry and placed it outside the door of the store where someone who knew the governor picked it up,” KRQE reported. “This is according to the person who runs Lilly Barrack stores. She says she didn’t know about it until after it happened. She also said no one was allowed in the stores at that time due to the public health order.”
As KRQE further reported:
The governor refused an on-camera interview but has a different version of the story. In an email from a governor spokesman, he says that “Lujan Grisham did call an employee, saying they had a longstanding personal relationship. The employee came here [Lilly Barrack], got the jewelry and took it home, left it outside their home and then someone came and picked it up.”
The governor’s office first said it was a campaign staffer, then later told KRQE it was the governor’s friend, but wouldn’t release a name. They also said the transaction was entirely contact-less, remote and permissible.
The spokesman also pointed to the governor’s order at the time stating “none of the state’s public health orders have restricted the conduct of business operations in which an employee only interacts with clients or customers remotely.” However, that same order also states it requires the closure of physical retails spaces and doesn’t mention anything about home delivery.
Grisham’s office made headlines most recently on Thursday for denouncing some of the state’s Christian pastors as “pro-virus” after they allowed their churches to celebrate Christmas Eve in defiance of the lockdown orders she instituted on Dec. 15.
“We all wish this pandemic were over, but it’s not, and no pro-virus pastor may deem it so. So many New Mexicans have sacrificed — and lost — so much in this pandemic,” Grisham’s spokesman said in a quote that NBC News first attributed to Grisham herself. “These illegal and selfish gatherings will directly contribute to more suffering and illness in our state. These church leaders should reflect on the danger they’ve unleashed in their communities.”
In a response somewhat similar to the shifting jewelry store story, Grisham’s office reached out to The Daily Wire on Thursday to claim that the comments her communications director gave to NBC News were not, in fact, attributable to the governor herself. “[Grisham] has not issued any statement on this issue,” spokesman Tripp Stelnicki told The Daily Wire. “I issued the statement. It is attributable to me. I look forward to your corrected article.” The Daily Wire amended its article after NBC issued a revision.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Dr. Rachel Levine
Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and his health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, distinguished themselves both for the strict, seemingly arbitrary nature of their COVID-19 rules, as well as for the ease with which they disregarded them.
Wolf broke his own state’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions on June 3 when he marched in solidarity with hundreds of protesters in Harrisburg following the death of George Floyd. In Harrisburg’s Dauphin County, gatherings were restricted to 25 people or fewer at the time, according to Pennsylvania’s color-coded reopening plan.
Levine, who drew scrutiny for removing her mother out of a personal care home as the coronavirus was devastating elderly populations, defended the governor’s apparent hypocrisy, saying, “The governor has always said that people have the right to protest, and to demonstrate, and the right to free speech, and so overall, we want large gatherings such as maybe a party or some type of concert or something, to be under 250 people.”
“But, we are not restricting people’s right to protest,” Levine added. “There are all obviously significant social issues that are present, that people feel that they need to have a voice, and so the governor is always supportive of that and is participating.”
This is why you have reporters at press conferences. Levine is asked about @GovernorTomWolf calling officials coward and then marching today in Harrisburg. Wait for the end. pic.twitter.com/6VkaYyMpwr
— Real_Dave_La_Torre 🍿 (@David_LaTorre) June 3, 2020
Levine stoked outrage, even among Democratic state lawmakers, when Pittsburgh NBC affiliate WPXI uncovered legal documents proving that Levine had come to a confidential settlement agreement with a car show in Harrisburg that allowed them to skirt the lockdown. Citing it as an “ongoing legal issue,” Levine refused repeated opportunities to explain why tens of thousands were allowed to shuffle through the car show’s four-day event during a time when outdoor gatherings were limited 250 people or fewer.
Most recently, at the behest of Levine, Wolf ordered Pennsylvanians to wear masks even in their own homes and banned alcohol sales in the state on the night before Thanksgiving. The health secretary has also claimed that masks could be necessary in Pennsylvania until the end of 2021.
Another Pennsylvania politician who deserves an honorable mention is Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who got busted eating indoors at his friend’s Maryland restaurant during a time when Philly restaurants shut down.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney enjoyed a meal indoors at a Maryland restaurant on Sunday and now he’s being skewered by one of Philly’s top chefs for that dining decision. More: https://t.co/CxKX6nBXPR pic.twitter.com/Fnxp87NT6L
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) August 31, 2020
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have featured prominently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuomo, who won an Emmy for his daily coronavirus briefings, was hit early on in the pandemic for implementing a policy that forced COVID-positive longterm care residents back to their care facilities, resulting in deaths estimated into the thousands, if not more.
Cuomo, who spent nearly two weeks telling New Yorkers to stay home for Thanksgiving, had to cancel his plans to bring his elderly mother and two daughters to Albany for the holiday following blowback.
In response, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) described Cuomo as a “despised, hypocritical, tyrannical, hubris-laden Governor[.]”
This is one of the many reasons why Cuomo is the WORST Governor in America.
His arrogance and hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Do as I say, not as I do.
Rules for thee, but not for me.
Family for me, but none for you.
A despised, hypocritical, tyrannical, hubris-laden Governor👇 https://t.co/WLvF5vdypx
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) November 23, 2020
Cuomo’s fellow New York politician, Bill de Blasio, was perhaps the first politician to flout his own COVID-19 rules when he was chauffeured to the gym on March 16, the same day he closed New York City’s schools and just one day before he shuttered its 27,000 restaurants indefinitely. Even some of his advisers described it as “inexcusable,” “reckless,” “pathetic,” and “self-involved,” according to the New York Post.
Months later, de Blasio would participate in the “East Harlem Pray and Protest” after the death of George Floyd. Even after he began to feel sick, he refused to get tested for COVID-19, which prompted Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) to tell the New York Daily News, “He wrote the book on hypocrisy. During his six years as mayor, he’s been nothing but a hypocrite on most things and this is a great example.”
Since then, de Blasio has continued to take flak for his leadership, especially for singling out the Jewish community, going so far as to personally help break up a rabbi’s funeral. Most recently, he warned an ultra-Orthodox synagogue in Brooklyn that he will shut them down “once and for all” if they continue to flout his lockdown orders.
Both Cuomo and de Blasio have faced criticism for singling out faith-based institutions for their lockdowns, though Cuomo’s edicts nevertheless earned the distinction of leading the Supreme Court to set the precedent that there are limits on state authority against houses of worship, even during a pandemic.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and Chicago Ald. Tom Tunney
Illinois was front and center in 2020 for government hypocrisy, with officials at the gubernatorial, mayoral, and even the aldermanic levels blowing off their own rules.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose net worth hovers at more than $3 billion thanks in part to his family’s ownership of the Hyatt hotel chain, issued a particularly strict state lockdown, which even led to a clash with a downstate judge. Police also refused to arrest individuals in violation of the “emergency orders” he pushed through in May.
Pritzker’s edict initially threatened fines, misdemeanor charges, and imprisonment for businesses that defied his shutdown mandate, but he eventually backed down. Several Illinois churches also sued Pritzker after his “Five Point” coronavirus plan threatened to shut down religious services of more than 50 people until 2021 or until a vaccine is found.
Pritzker was therefore met with intense criticism when photographs emerged that showed him marching in Chicago with large crowds to commemorate Juneteenth, when outdoor gatherings were limited to fewer than 10 people, according to NBC Chicago.
When a reporter asked why his family was allowed to scuttle off to his $12 million equestrian estate in Florida when the rest of the state was locked down, Pritzker grew testy. “Well, first of all, I want to say that in, in politics, it used to be that we kept our families out of it,” he said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also featured prominently in the 2020 annals of coronavirus duplicity. Shortly before Thanksgiving, Lightfoot imposed a 10-person cap on gatherings such as weddings, funerals, and other events, according to the Chicago Tribune. She even went so far as to urge families to “cancel traditional Thanksgiving plans.”
– Stay home unless for essential reasons
– Stop having guests over—including family members you do not live with
– Avoid non-essential travel
– Cancel traditional Thanksgiving plans
— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) November 12, 2020
Like Pelosi, Lightfoot also faced accusations of wanton hypocrisy when she got her hair done in April, during a time when Chicagoans were forbidden even from outdoor exercise. “I am the public face of this city,” Lightfoot said when a reporter confronted her about it. “I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye. I take my personal hygiene very seriously. As I said, I felt like I needed to have a haircut. I’m not able to do that myself, so I got a haircut. You want to talk more about that?”
Lightfoot also celebrated in the streets amid the apparent victory of Democratic nominee Joe Biden in November.
When MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle questioned her about breaking her own rules, Lightfoot said, “Well, look, I think that we’ve been saying all along everybody has to take care, everybody has to take precaution. I will tell you, in that big crowd a week ago, we had, everybody was wearing masks. Look at, you can see the shot here – mask compliance in our city is actually up very, very high. But yes, there are times when we actually do need to have a relief and come together, and I felt like that was one of those times.”
“That crowd was gathered whether I was there or not,” she added.
.@chicagosmayor Lightfoot defends celebrating Biden’s Election Day in the streets despite her own rules against mass gatherings: "That crowd was gathered whether I was there or not." pic.twitter.com/MR81LnHfa7
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) November 13, 2020
Chicago Ald. Tom Tunney (D-44th Ward) was also busted when a local investigative blog discovered that his restaurant was sneaking in patrons against state and city lockdown mandates. Tunney, whom Lightfoot chose to serve as chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, was forced to apologize after Second City Cop, a blog that usually covers stories related to the Chicago police, exposed that his popular restaurant, Ann Sather, was thumbing its nose to the lockdown and hiding it.
“We were seating some people, but somebody ratted us out,” one of the restaurant’s employees said.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser
As mayor of a city where even neglecting to wear one’s mask outdoors carried a potential $1,000 fine, District Mayor Muriel Bowser repeatedly took heat in 2020 for giving herself and other Democrats a pass in the name of “essential” government business.
Around the same time a D.C. pub frequented by Trump supporters was fined thousands for violating her restrictions, Bowser traveled to celebrate Biden’s apparent victory with a crowd in Wilmington, Delaware, one of the “high-risk states” from which she normally demands a 14-day quarantine if anyone visits. The mayor’s office assured both Fox 5 and NBC 4 that her trip to the Biden victory speech was “essential travel” because she met with senior Biden adviser Symone Sanders in her official capacity.
“I do a lot of things to advance the interests of the District of Columbia, and some of them are formal, and some of them are informal, but all of them are necessary,” Bowser said.
DC @MayorBowser’s Chief of Staff, @falcicchio says Mayor & her senior advisors met with @SymoneDSanders ( pictured with Bowser ) a senior advisor to @JoeBiden as part of their essential travel to Delaware. @nbcwashington https://t.co/GSkTC6ZbhJ
— Mark Segraves (@SegravesNBC4) November 9, 2020
The “essential travel” excuse also applied to lawmakers who attended the late Rep. John Lewis’ funeral in Atlanta last summer. Georgia was also a high-risk state that required mandatory two-week quarantine post-travel. The federal lawmakers who crammed into the crowded pews to listen to eulogies from former presidents, however, were exempt from Bowser’s mandate.
Bowser’s press secretary, Susana Castillo, characterized the ceremony as an “essential” government activity, telling Just the News, “Government activity is essential, and the Capitol of the United States is exempt from the Mayor’s Order.”
When Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC), a prominent evangelical congregation in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, sued Bowser for her continually extended COVID-19 lockdown orders against even outdoor worship services, they referenced her hypocrisy in their lawsuit.
The Daily Wire reported:
A portion of the lawsuit documented the repeated times over the summer when mass protests violated the city’s lockdown orders, but for which there were no consequences. Referring to the June 6 protest near the White House, the suit notes, “Mayor Bowser attended the mass protest and said to the thousands in attendance, ‘It’s so wonderful to see everyone peacefully protesting, wearing their masks.’”
Following support from the Department of Justice and 34 Republican senators, Bowser eventually backed off her clampdown on outdoor services. “It is for the church, not the District or this court, to define for itself the meaning of ‘not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,’” ruled Trump-appointed Judge Trevor McFadden, referencing a verse in the Book of Hebrews that commands Christians to gather for worship.
When Bowser extended her lockdowns against churches again in December, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., took their turn in suing her.
During the holiday week, the archdiocese and Bowser’s administration reached what Anthony Dick, an attorney representing the archdiocese, described as a “Christmas truce.”
As The Daily Wire reported:
The agreement comes a week after the archdiocese filed a lawsuit on Dec. 11 alleging that Bowser’s 50-person cap on all houses of worship, regardless of size, was unconstitutional. In response, Bowser loosened restrictions setting limits in churches to 25% of their capacity or up to 250 people, whichever is smaller.
Since the court’s ruling, even the Museum of the Bible seemingly intends to sue Bowser for impinging on the religious experiences their visitors could potentially have by visiting their establishment.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.