It is all anyone in coastal 48th Congressional District could talk about last weekend. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wildly unpopular decision to close Orange County Beaches was met by loud, bipartisan protests across the region.
Seemingly every member of local government from County Sheriff Don Barnes, to County Supervisor Michelle Steel, and the entire Newport Beach City Council agreed the closures of the public’s beaches were an infringement on basic constitutional rights and motivated by petty political animus.
Everyone seemed to agree, everyone that is except Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Emerald Bay).
To be clear the freshman Congressman is welcome to his opinion, but as the weekend drew to a close, what stuck out like a sore thumb was his rank hypocrisy on the issue.
In what is becoming a common occurrence, Harley Rouda took to Twitter to attack his political opponent, Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel for her vote to open OC beaches provided social distancing was enforced:
Keeping Orange County beaches open during a heat wave is reckless.
We need leaders who will prioritize public health and make the tough calls to keep our families safe. https://t.co/mbNGZ3cjDg
— Harley Rouda (@HarleyRouda) April 22, 2020
However, Rep. Harley Rouda’s line-in-the-sand did not last long.
On May 4th, CBS News published that they were in receipt of pictures of Rep. Harley Rouda enjoying time on the ritzy, semi-private beach of Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach.
Rouda’s campaign manager, issued a statement that the freshman Congressman and his family were obeying social distancing, but that same rationale somehow didn’t not apply to the coastal residents of Orange County that Rep. Harley Rouda is meant to represent.
This marks the fourth time in the last 40 days that Rep. Harley Rouda has tried and failed to use the Coronavirus as a means to attack his political opponent.
First in an attempt to undermine the Trump Administration went so far that the Chinese Communist Government’s propaganda arm used video of his statements to advance a absurd conspiracy theory that American soldiers brought the Coronavirus to China in late 2019.
The comments were so distasteful and irresponsible that it earned a response from the Pentagon:
As a global crisis, COVID-19 shd be an area of cooperation between nations. Instead, the Communist Party of China has chosen to promulgate false & absurd conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19 blaming U.S. service members. #ChinaPropaganda https://t.co/gAkhEtlEfr
— Alyssa Farah (@PentagonPresSec) March 13, 2020
Next, Rep. Rouda attempted to lay the onus on Supervisor Steel to waive or delay Orange County property taxes – something only the Governor and the County Tax Collector can do:
It’s easy for @HarleyRouda to sit and snipe from the sidelines. Since @HarleyRouda‘s focus is always on raising taxes, he likely doesn’t understand only the governor can move the property tax deadline and only the OC Tax Collector can waive penalties (which I’ve asked her to do). https://t.co/a66i3gnGhT
— Michelle Steel (@MichelleSteelCA) April 7, 2020
Then, through some tricky photo editing, Rouda tried and failed to criticize County Supervisor Steel for wearing a protective mask whilst a supply glut existed for essential workers:
You can’t make this up: @MichelleSteelCA and her colleagues are standing in masks…refusing to create workplace safety provisions that would give masks to our brave essential workers.
This isn’t leadership — it’s reserving the lifeboat for yourself. pic.twitter.com/KN9fkGCefe
— Harley Rouda (@HarleyRouda) April 14, 2020
This photoshop tactic omits a crucial truth that these masks were part of a larger donation procured by Steel and the rest of the OC Supervisors to provide masks for the very same workers that Rouda’s tweet invokes.
No, @HarleyRouda. What’s shameful is your continued efforts to politicize this pandemic. This is a picture of me accepting 2,000 face masks for the county’s emergency health workers. https://t.co/UeKPnwgfSg
— Michelle Steel (@MichelleSteelCA) April 14, 2020
Ideally, the Coronavirus will pass, beaches will reopen and we can all get back to normal. Unfortunately for those on the coast, Rep. Rouda’s campaign tactics will likely remain in the gutter that drains to ocean.