Newly released photos appear to show California Governor Gavin Newsom and his wife in an unmasked group eating shoulder-to-shoulder indoors at a birthday party earlier this month.
FOX 11 Los Angeles obtained photos from a 50th birthday party for Jason Kinney, a longtime lobbyist and Newsom adviser, at French Laundry on November 6, taken by a witness who told the outlet the group was so loud that open sliding glass doors near where they were seated had to be closed.
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
On Monday, Newsom apologized for attending the party saying he made a “bad mistake.”
“I should have stood up and … drove back to my house…The spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted,” he said. “ I need to preach and practice, not just preach.”
Newsom said that he wanted to “own” his mistake because he was concerned his actions might undermine the message of caution he had sent to residents. The governor instituted new coronavirus restrictions this week, closing indoor dining across much of the state and urging residents to avoid large Thanksgiving gatherings.
“I’m doing my best every single day in trying to model better behavior,” he said.
A spokesman for Kinney defended the gathering, telling FOX 11 that the seating at the upscale restaurant north of San Francisco was considered outdoors.
“The guests and the restaurant followed all applicable state and county public health guidance,” the spokesperson said. “The guests specifically required outdoor seating. And that’s outdoor seating, as confirmed and provided by the restaurant.”
The backlash comes as daily coronavirus cases in the state have doubled in the last 10 days, “the fastest increase California has seen since the beginning of this pandemic,” Newsom said Monday. The state surpassed 1 million coronavirus cases last week.