Contra Costa supervisors slam district attorney’s pandemic wedding party: ‘It needs to be called out’

Contra Costa County supervisors didn’t hold back Tuesday in roundly criticizing District Attorney Diana Becton for throwing a private outdoor wedding party at her home last summer amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“I was frustrated, I was disappointed to see that that happened,” Supervisor Candace Andersen said during the board meeting.

Becton, who wasn’t at the board meeting when the criticism was dished out, hasn’t apologized for throwing the Aug. 1 party, attended by 25 to 30 people.

Instead, the district attorney wrote a statement on Facebook saying she consulted health officials before throwing the event and believed she “would be okay as long as proper safety precautions were adhered to.”

“I did everything I believed was in proper guidance with what I thought was allowed,” Becton wrote. “I realize public officials like myself are held to a higher standard, as we should be.”

At the time, coronavirus-related restrictions didn’t allow multiple households to gather in the same space. Prior to the party, Becton had written notes to neighbors warning that 20 to 30 cars would occupy the block, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the county supervisors made clear they were disappointed that Becton didn’t follow the same safety practices they’ve asked their constituents to heed.

“There were so many events that so many of us had to give up that were as important,” Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said. “It just needs to be called out. We cannot sweep it under the rug and act as if this did not happen.”

Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen addresses to the media on the first death from COVID-19 in the Contra Costa County during a press conference at Contra Costa Health Services in Martinez, Calif., on Friday, March 20, 2020. The supervisor sharply criticized District Attorney Diana Becton for throwing a wedding party last summer amid rising coronavirus cases. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Andersen noted that Becton had formed a COVID-19 enforcement task force around the same time as the wedding to crack down on people and businesses breaking safety protocol.

“I cannot tell you how many friends had their children getting married last summer who said, ‘Can we have a reception?’ and I had to keep saying, ‘Because of the health order, you can have a (socially distanced) religious ceremony… but you really are not allowed to serve food,” Andersen said.

In her statement on Sunday, Becton said her guests had their temperature taken and wore masks. No COVID-19 cases were associated with her wedding, she added.

But Mitchoff on Tuesday took Becton to task for failing to take responsibility for the party and instead going with the common excuse that she didn’t intend any wrongdoing.

“This was wrong, it needs to be called out and taken responsibility for,” Mitchoff said.

Becton is the latest of elected official outed for skirting coronavirus safety rules after lecturing others to follow them. Late last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized for attending a private dinner in an enclosed patio at the pricey French Laundry for a lobbyist friend.

She isn’t the first official elected by Contra Costa County voters to catch flak for questionable decisions during a deadly pandemic. State Sen. Bill Dodd, who represents part of the county, confirmed in November he had flown to a conference in Maui amid a nationwide surge in cases.

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Author: Shomik Mukherjee