Another California lawmaker confirms Maui attendance, defends event as even 'more urgent'

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Assemblymember Heath Flora is pictured at the Capitol. | Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

Another California lawmaker has acknowledged flying to a conference at a luxury Maui resort despite a troubling surge in Covid-19 cases around the nation.

Assemblymember Heath Flora (R-Ripon) responded to inquiries about his whereabouts in an email on Wednesday confirming he, too, was at the Fairmont Kea Lani. He’s the fifth California lawmaker who has confirmed his attendance or whose participation is presumed based on documentation.

“Yes, I am attending this year’s annual bipartisan policy conference, and all participants are following COVID-19 protocols and were required to be tested prior to arrival,” he wrote.

Roughly 20 lawmakers from California, Texas and Washington state are at the annual four-day, 100-person conference organized by the Independent Voter Project, according to organizers, who would not release a list of the attendees. The event has drawn tremendous backlash, despite organizers’ assurances of testing and other safety precautions.

It comes as businesses have again had to scale back their operations, families have been asked to cancel holiday plans and many Californians are out of work.

Flora defended the conference. “Participants are discussing how to safely reopen larger sectors of the economy and the discussion suddenly became more urgent with Newsom’s announcement on Monday,” he wrote. “Simply shutting down 95% of the state might’ve made sense back in April or May, but we understand so much more now than we did then. We’re way (past) blanket solutions.”

Assemblymembers Jordan Cunningham (R-Templeton) and Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) reported buying plane tickets on their late October campaign finance filings. Chad Mayes (I-Yucca Valley) confirmed his presence through a spokesperson. And Wendy Carrillo (D-Boyle Heights) sent a tweet on Sunday that was location stamped from Kihei, Hawaii, near the conference resort. Carrillo’s office has not responded to requests for confirmation.

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