Far too many elected officials have hypocritically exhibited a “rules for thee but not for me” attitude throughout the coronavirus pandemic, openly flouting their own rules and guidelines put in place to curb the spread of the disease. Now, one top Democrat has just become the latest example.
The Democratic mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, was caught flying to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with his family after he urged constituents and city employees alike to refrain from any such travel of their own, NBC News reported.
The blatant disregard of his own advice for residents amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Colorado sparked widespread and bipartisan criticism and even prompted an apology from the mayor, NBC noted.
Do as I say, not as I do
It was local NBC affiliate 9NEWS that first reported Wednesday on the shocking hypocrisy of Mayor Hancock. The outlet had obtained video footage of the Democrat at an airport less than an hour after he publicly asked constituents to avoid traveling to be with their families for the holiday.
Hancock tweeted a graphic Wednesday morning that implored Denver residents to “pass the potatoes, not COVID,” suggesting that people should stay home, avoid travel, and host “virtual gatherings” with their families instead of getting together for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
9NEWS noted that Hancock’s assistant had informed the media that the mayor would be out of the office from Wednesday through Friday, but had not mentioned his travel plans.
Just one week earlier, Hancock said in an email to city employees that “with the continued rise in [COVID-19] cases, I’m urging you to refrain from travel this Thanksgiving holiday. For my family that means canceling our traditional gathering of our extended family,” he added, according to 9News.
Mayor faces pushback
But travel he did, and following the immediate — and justifiable — outrage that ensued, Hancock issued a statement that served as a sort-of apology for his actions.
“I fully acknowledge that I have urged everyone to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel. I have shared how my family canceled our plans for our traditional multi-household Thanksgiving celebration,” Hancock wrote, according to 9NEWS. He went on:
What I did not share, but should have, is that my wife and my daughter have been in Mississippi, where my daughter recently took a job. As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see them than to have two family members travel back to Denver.
Hancock said he realized his decision “disappointed many who believe it would have been better to spend Thanksgiving alone.”
“As a public official, whose conduct is rightly scrutinized for the message it sends to others, I apologize to the residents of Denver who see my decision as conflicting with the guidance to stay at home for all but essential travel,” the mayor added, as NBC News reported. “I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are borne of my heart and not my head.”
According to 9NEWS, the president of the Denver City Council, Stacie Gilmore, said that Hancock should be forced to quarantine for 14 days upon his return, as is the rule for any other travelers in the city. Meanwhile, the head of the Denver school board suggested that Hancock should be immediately replaced by another mayor who will actually follow their own guidelines, The Guardian reported. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.