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California GOP lawmakers defend Maui trip as promoting ‘intelligent public policy’

About 20 lawmakers from California, Texas and Washington state are at the four-day, 100-person conference organized by the Independent Voter Project.

Assemblymember Heath Flora is pictured at the Capitol. | Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo California GOP lawmakers defend Maui trip as promoting ‘intelligent public policy’

SACRAMENTO — Four California GOP lawmakers acknowledged Wednesday they flew to a conference at a luxury Maui resort despite a troubling surge in Covid-19 cases, but they tried to flip the script by embracing their decision as consistent with their support for more business activities during the pandemic.

Assembly Republicans Jordan Cunningham, Heath Flora, Frank Bigelow and state Sen. Andreas Borgeas emphasized the event’s safety protocols and framed the gathering as crucial. Yet the event has come under condemnation from critics as out of touch and in defiance with state warnings, especially after Gov. Gavin Newsom last week urged residents not to travel beyond California.

The conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui features lawmakers and lobbyists from four states who are discussing how to reopen the economy. Hawaii requires visitors to obtain a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours before traveling to the islands.

“This event promotes intelligent public policy in our state,” said Cunningham (R-Templeton) in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “In fact, we are here discussing ways we can safely reopen our society and save our small businesses, workers, and kids.”

Seven California lawmakers have now either confirmed their attendance or are presumed to be at the Maui conference based on documentation. The four Republicans and Republican-turned-independent Chad Mayes, of Yucca Valley, are the only lawmakers to confirm their participation.

Their public responses, though provided after a…

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