Several California lawmakers are now under fire for traveling to Hawaii for a policy conference; among the legislators in attendance is Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham.
This conference comes just days after Governor Gavin Newsom was highly criticized for attending a dinner with 12 people in Napa Valley.
The Independent Voter Project's annual Legislative Exchange Conference has been held since the '80s and according to their website, it's held in Maui "in large part because the location is away from the partisan focused media and political machines."
Cunningham defended his trip in a statement Wednesday saying:
Yes, my family and I are in Hawaii for an annual, bipartisan policy conference. This event promotes intelligent public policy in our state. In fact, we are here discussing ways we can safely reopen our society and save our small businesses, workers, and kids. We paid for my family’s tickets and COVID tests with personal money – no state funds were used.
Before traveling, every attendee followed local public health and safety protocols, including testing negative for COVID-19 before getting on the plane. We wear masks in all public spaces and conference rooms and socially distance ourselves from other visitors, complying with all health protocols. This is a safe environment.
I have been saying since April that Governor Newsom's lockdown policies are draconian and unscientific. Fortunately, thus far, he has stopped short of unconstitutionally attempting to stop interstate travel, close the airports, or make vacations or Thanksgiving illegal.
My family and I took all necessary precautions to protect ourselves and those around us while on our trip, and we will continue to do so back on the Central Coast.
The trip is something San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein says is wrong.
"I think that was a bad call on the part of those legislators and I think bringing these things to light will help us all be reminded that we have to live what we preach," Dr. Borenstein said.
A Maui County spokesperson, Brian Perry, says their rules: “allow commercial event operators to hold events with specific health and safety protocols for the protection of guests, residents and employees."
The Fairmont Kea Lani hotel where the conference is taking place adding:
Our top priority remains the safety, care and wellbeing of our Fairmont Kea Lani ‘ohana (family). Welcoming, safeguarding and taking care of others is at the very heart of what we do and who we are. At this moment, this means keeping our guests and colleagues safe by preventing the spread of COVID-19 – partnering with top experts to implement new standards of safety and enhanced operational protocols and procedures which are among the most stringent in the hospitality industry.
We remain vigilant in our adherence to state and county ordinances in respect to travel policies, safety protocol, and group gatherings for our guests as well as our colleagues.
Hawaii's pre-travel testing program for COVID-19 began last month. These tests allow "travelers to avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine if they are tested within 72 hours before their flight to Hawaii departs."