A Fresno-based hair stylist and salon owner says she was "outraged" when one of her freelance stylists told her she would be accepting a blowout appointment with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Union Street salon she owns. And that's why she released surveillance footage of Pelosi to Fox News — obviously not because of her political leanings.
The story made a splash late Tuesday, with the GOP pouncing on Pelosi as a hypocrite.
According to Pelosi's staff, the Speaker was incorrectly informed by the stylist performing the blowout that the salon was permitted to have one client indoors at the salon at a time, and apparently no one knew any better. As they tell CNN, "The speaker complied with the rules as presented to her by this establishment." Also, they say Pelosi is always wearing a face mask according to local public health rules, and that she was during her blowout as well — she took it off only to have her hair washed, and the released footage was taken from the moment when she was walking between the shampoo sink and the styling chair.
As the story goes, Pelosi employs a stylist in San Francisco who has been coming to her home to do blowouts and the like, but that stylist was busy on Monday and instead referred her to a colleague at eSalon in Cow Hollow, where s/he used to work. That colleague, a freelancer, then allegedly misrepresented San Francisco's rules concerning salons. According to state guidelines announced Friday, hair salons and barbershops in "red"-labeled counties like San Francisco can reopen for indoor services with modifications. But city-level rules supersede those, so perhaps the confusion is understandable.
Clearly lumping Pelosi in with all other Democratic leaders who have been enforcing strict public-health closure guidelines for businesses like hers, Erica Kious told Fox that she was angry that Pelosi would seek special treatment like this. Spinning her release of the "gotcha" footage as a righteous thing, Kious said, "This is for everybody. I am sharing this because of what everyone in my industry, and my city, what every small business is going through right now."
The "my city" part might be a little disingenuous though. While Kious may have lived in San Francisco when she opened eSalon, she is now primarily based in her hometown of Fresno, as she says on Instagram and the eSalon Fresno website. And it goes without saying that Fresno, which is home to Devin Nunes, is Trump country.
"We’re supposed to look up to this woman, right? It is just disturbing," Kious crowed in her Fox News interview. But come on, lady.
Senate Republicans leapt at the chance to attack Pelosi and the Democrats, writing on Twitter Tuesday, "Speaker Pelosi has pushed policies that would keep our economy closed and our small businesses shut down. But for herself? A salon visit whenever she pleases."
Speaker Pelosi has pushed policies that would keep our economy closed and our small businesses shut down.— Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) September 1, 2020
But for herself?
A salon visit whenever she pleases.
A “slap in the face” indeed.
As CNN notes, the closure of barbershops and salons has been politicized for months now, and signs like "I Want a Haircut" were held aloft by anti-lockdown protesters going back to April.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas used this to his own political advantage in May by patronizing a hair salon whose owner was jailed for defying public health orders, and President Trump himself tweeted support for the salon owner.
Pelosi herself, as Reuters reports, responded to Senate Republicans last week saying that their proposed new stimulus package in insufficient because it doesn't include "the funding needed for testing and tracing to crush the virus and safely reopen schools and the economy." She has blamed Republicans for delays in reopening parts of the economy because they don't "listen to the scientists."
Update: At an event in Noe Valley on Wednesday, Pelosi commented on the situation, calling it "a setup" and demanding that the salon apologize to her. She reiterated that the salon, which she'd been to many times over the years, had misinformed her about being able to take one client at a time, and she said, "I take responsibility for falling for a setup."
Mayor London Breed also commented during a radio interview, as SFGate reports, saying, "It’s really unfortunate with everything happening in this country, with the fact that we basically have a dictator in charge of running this country. And we have our Speaker Nancy Pelosi working day and night to fight against the challenges against the White House... it’s unfortunate that this conversation has blown up in the way that it has and distracted from the real issues."