Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Shane Smith, a Special Assistant to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), seems to have been granted a dispensation from the Speaker when it comes to her own policy.
On August 13th, the Aide was caught on social media celebrating the opportunity to bring his parents to the Capitol. Smith posted a picture atop the Speaker’s balcony with his parents expressing gratitude for the opportunity to show them where he works. No social distancing was observed as the family, including what looks like two sexagenarians (a vulnerable population), held each other for the picture.
He ended the recap of his family visit with: “P.S. we wore masks the entire time we were inside because…you know…common sense and CDC guidelines.” According to wannabe Drs Smith and Pelosi, and House Physician Dr. Brian Monahan, Covid cannot be contracted outside the Capitol walls.
Smith’s hubris is an extension of his boss’ hypocrisy who has had conflicts with her own policy. Exactly two days after Speaker Pelosi issued her mask decree, she administered the Oath of Office to newly-elected Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Tex.) alongside his wife and two children. No one, including the Speaker, wore masks.
The Speaker ordered on July 28th that masks are required for House members and their staff. This order came less than 24 hours after Dr. Monahan sent a House Masking memorandum to the House emphasizing CDC guidelines in an effort to combat the Delta variant:
“This CDC recommended measure further reduces risk of acquiring infection, and potential risk of transmitting disease to an individual’s vulnerable household members (children under age 12, immunocompromised family members, etc.). For all House Office Buildings, the Hall of the House, and House Committee Meetings.”
The memo included an emphatic reminder: “To be clear, for meetings in an enclosed US House of Representatives controlled space, masks are REQUIRED.” Within the same paragraph, Dr. Monahan writes that: “Masks are NOT required in indoor spaces when an individual is alone. Limited exceptions are also permissible.”
Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R.-Fl.) tweeted a more disturbing action by the Speaker: directing Capitol Police to arrest staff and visitors who do not comply with her mask mandate—regardless of their vaccination status.
It seems as though the Delta variant is the more alert strain of the virus; or that Smith, Speaker Pelosi, and Dr. Monahan are privy to a medical phenomena unknown to the rest of us: apparently crossing the threshold into the outdoors—or the Senate side of the Capitol – nearly eliminates the risk of contracting a “much more contagious” strain which “accounts for most coronavirus transmission now in the United States,” per Dr. Monahan.
This is not the first time that Smith and his boss have circumvented the rules that constrict the rest of us. Both were in attendance for the funeral of the late civil rights activist, Rep. John Lewis (D.-Ga.), during the height of the pandemic where Speaker Pelosi and others delivered eulogies without masks. USA Today reported that hundreds were along the sidewalk and in front of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in what would otherwise be called a “superspreader event.” Non-politically-connected families who could not visit their loved ones in their final moments, nor attend their funerals, could not be reached for comment.
A review of the Capitol Police Weekly Arrest Summary did not mention the Smith family being led out in handcuffs for placing so many lives at risk during their visit—but considering who employs their son, the rules would not apply. They never do.