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No politician escapes the heightened scrutiny that comes with running for office. And most, if not all, have been criticized for not doing enough to align their actions with their words.

But few see their missteps lead so quickly to white-hot anger as did Gov. Gavin Newsom, after admitting that he joined several other couples at a birthday dinner less than two weeks ago, or members of the California Legislature currently enjoying a trip to Hawaii while schmoozing with interest groups that may have underwritten the cost of the event.

In both cases, the personal decisions of the elected officials involved gave the impression that their privilege led them to believe they are immune to the pandemic, ignoring the safety precautions they have asked Californians to take.

COVID-19 “magnifies the bad optics of this,” said Kevin Eckery, a public affairs strategist who served as press secretary to then-Gov. Pete Wilson. “It’s worse when people are sacrificing a lot.”

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