As we reported Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom broke his own coronavirus rules by dining with a large group of people, consisting of members of more than three households. While he apologized and attempted to justify his behavior by saying it was an outdoors party, new information has surfaced.
Fox Los Angeles reporter Bill Melugin obtained photos from a woman who was dining at The French Laundry restaurant in Napa, California on November 6, the same evening Newsom attended a 50th birthday party for his longtime friend and well-known lobbyist, Jason Kinney. The woman, asked to not be identified, told Melugin:
I just happened to look over and realized, ‘Hey, is that Gavin Newsom? Who is that?’ And I did ask one of the waitresses and she confirmed it was.
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
When Newsom “apologized” Monday for attending the party, he claimed it was outdoors.
It was in Napa, which was in the orange status, relatively loose compared to some other counties. It was an outdoor restaurant, and we – well, the program started at 4:00. It was one of those early reservations. I got there a little bit late, at 4:30. And as soon as I sat down at the larger table I realized that it was a little larger group than I had anticipated, and I made a bad mistake.
As the photos depict, three of the sides of the “room” were solid, and the fourth wall was a sliding glass door. That door was closed part of the time, the woman told Melugin, and the people weren’t very socially-distanced:
It got louder and louder, and so they had some sliding glass doors that they were able to close, so then it was a closed-off room, but you could still hear them with how loud they were.
It was a very large group of people, and shoulder to shoulder, something that he is always telling us not to do. It was a bit annoying, for sure.
Kinney’s spokesperson disputes the description of the party as being indoors, issuing the following statement to Melugin:
The guests and the restaurant followed all applicable state and county public health guidance.The guests specifically required outdoor seating, and that’s outdoor seating, as confirmed and provided by the restaurant.
The spokesperson also provided Melugin with a photo from Town & Country Magazine describing that space as “outdoors.” A similar photo could be found on the restaurant’s Twitter timeline:
The Board Room, our newest private dining space located in the annex building and featuring a custom dining table made from a 140-year-old tree. pic.twitter.com/g7rvVcE88D
— The French Laundry (@_TFL_) May 15, 2018
That same Town & Country story, though, refers to this room as “The Board Room,” and the woman behind the “Jetsetting Fashionista” blog described the room in a post describing her “behind-the-scenes” visit to the restaurant thusly:
The Private Dining room which I am having my upcoming Birthday party at. During one of the tours a guest was celebrating their birthday in here and I decided it is the perfect location for a birthday celebration!
And, the supplier that made the concealed doors, HEXveneer, referred to the area as both the private dining room and The Board Room.
The French Laundry’s private dining room, called The Board Room has a pair of concealed doors that we built in partnership with Trinity Engineering.
The photos on HEXveneer’s website make clear that they’re referring to the same room Newsom was spotted in.
Hmm, that looks like it’s indoors to me. I’m sure that’s just “quibbling,” as Newsom referred to during Monday’s press conference.
Newsom’s office responded to a request for comment right before Melugin’s story aired, saying “they don’t want to comment on the specific substance” of the story, then referred the journalist to Newsom’s previous apology, in which he admitted fearing “he might have lost some of his moral authority because of all this and people might start tuning him out on his COVID precautions because of his actions.” Might? Just now? No, Governor, you lost that moral authority a long, long time ago. Not only is he a liar; he is a hypocrite.