California lawmakers are defending their presence at a Hawaiian conference on "intelligent public policy" regarding COVID-19, but it appears they defied their home state's warnings to go. Four Republicans who attended the bipartisan event—state Sen. Andreas Borgeas and Assembly members Jordan Cunningham, Heath Flora, and Frank Bigelow—said the conference at Maui's Fairmont Kea Lani luxury hotel is a vital one that adheres to safety protocols, per Politico. "We are here discussing ways we can safely reopen our society and save our small businesses, workers, and kids," Cunningham said in a statement about the four-day conference that began Monday and includes lobbyists and lawmakers from California, Texas, South Carolina, and Washington.
Borgeas, Flora, and Bigelow offered similar statements, and an event organizer detailed safety protocols to McClatchy. Also said to be at the annual event organized by the nonprofit Independent Voter Project: California Assembly members Chad Mayes (independent) and Blanca Rubio, Jose Medina, Wendy Carrillo, and Mike Gipson (Democrats), though they have stayed relatively mum on the subject. "It is an abomination that legislators would break quarantine to play in the sun at a four-star resort," a Consumer Watchdog rep said, per the Los Angeles Times. (The backlash comes days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom pulled his state's "emergency brake" and urged residents against nonessential travel—and just days after he apologized himself for attending a birthday dinner at a Napa Valley restaurant.)