First, there were the photos of far-left California Gov. Gavin Newsom dining unmasked in a fancy French restaurant with a large group of unmasked guests — quite the faux pas considering the controversial COVID-19 dining restrictions the Democrat has instituted.
But now Politico is reporting that California Medical Association officials — of all people — were among the guests seated with Newsom at the "opulent birthday dinner at the French Laundry restaurant this month." Sacré bleu!
What are the details?
CEO Dustin Corcoran and top CMA lobbyist Janus Norman were at the famous Napa fine-dining restaurant with the governor to celebrate the 50th birthday of lobbyist and longtime Newsom adviser Jason Kinney, a CMA representative told the outlet Wednesday morning.
Both Norman and Corcoran are friends of Kinney, as is Newsom, who referred this week to his 20-year friendship with Kinney, Politico said, adding that a photo obtained by KTTV-TV clearly shows Norman seated to Newsom's left:
Image source: KTTV-TV video screenshot
More from the outlet:
The presence of CMA brass could amplify criticisms of the dinner occurring despite coronavirus restrictions that have limited Californians' movements and constrained businesses. While Newsom and Kinney's lobbying firm have said the meal abided by public health rules, it has struck a chord with Californians who have assailed the upscale soiree as hypocritical as coronavirus cases surge.
The state has issued guidelines prohibiting more than three households from gathering privately — a limit clearly exceeded by the French Laundry dinner. However, the state has intentionally allowed restaurants to seat people from more than three households together.
Doctors and other health care workers have been vigilant since the pandemic began in asking Californians to stay at home — a call that has ramped up in recent weeks as hospitals across the nation fill to capacity.
CMA spokesperson Anthony York told Politico in a statement that "the dinner was held in accordance with state and county guidelines."
Newsom and Kinney's lobbying firm, Axiom Advisors, said it was an outdoor dinner, the outlet reported, adding that Napa County restaurants were permitted to hold indoor service at the time of the Nov. 6 event.
The CMA has been a powerful lobbying presence on the state level, Politico noted, adding that its Sacramento officials are longtime friends with Kinney. The CMA spent $2.1 million last year lobbying state leaders, the outlet reported.