STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — Some California assembly members faced criticism Tuesday for attending a four-day conference at a luxury hotel on Maui as the state urged residents to avoid non-essential out-of-state travel due to rising COVID-19 numbers.
“It comes to the issue of appearances,” Jack Pitney, professor at Claremont McKenna College, said. “Doing this in Maui — in what a lot of people would regard as something like a vacation, particularly at a time like this when so many people in this country and the state are having hardship — that’s the real problem.”
According to Politico, at least four California lawmakers were in attendance at the annual event. October campaign finance filings show assemblymembers Jordan Cunningham, R-Templeton, and Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, bought plane tickets to Hawaii.
A representative for Assemblymember Chad Mayes, I-Yucca Valley, confirmed that he was in Hawaii, though did not confirm the reason for the travel.
And Assemblymember Wendy Carillo, D-Boyle Heights, is believed to have been in the area of the conference based on a tweet she sent that tagged her location. A request for comment from her office was not immediately returned.
“People in public office have to be aware how these things look, particularly the venue in Maui,” Pitney said. “If you want to have a conference and have a serious discussion about public policy, you can do that in Glendale.”
Some constituents said the trip was sending the wrong message as coronavirus cases surge in the state and elected officials call on residents to stay home as much as possible.
“Lawmakers set an example for their constituents,” Marsha Newman, a Studio City resident, said. “This is just a terrible example.
“I think it’s giving them a big sense of, ‘Well, if it’s OK for them to travel, why shouldn’t we,'” Spencer Thornton, a Studio City resident, said.
The Independent Voters Project, which organizes the annual conference, said it was following all safety protocols, including Hawaii state guidelines.