News Story

Government Leaders On COVID Rules: Do What I Say, Not What I Do

People will notice

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer violated her own pandemic executive orders when she attended a George Floyd demonstration on June 4 in Highland Park. In newspaper photos, Whitmer appeared shoulder-to-shoulder with others, marching and kneeling during the event. A number of people were not wearing masks.

Whitmer had previously said such actions endangered other residents.

But Michigan’s governor is not the only high-ranking government official to ignore and violate official social distance warnings and restrictions. There have been many examples of public officials around the country publicly lecturing residents about not adhering to coronavirus restrictions while privately engaging in the same behavior.

Here are some of the more high profile examples:


Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens violated COVID rules by attending an eight-guest dinner party on Nov. 18; social distancing rules imposed by the province of Ontario limited gatherings to six people.

Just hours earlier, Dilkens had called for a zero- tolerance approach on government enforcement of the restrictions, according to CBC.

“Listen, I made a mistake, I own up to it, I’m accountable for it, I should have known,” Dilkens said, according to the Windsor Star. He called it an “unfortunate error on my part.”

“As mayor, there is responsibility for me to lead by example and showcase to all in our region that we need to follow all restrictions and guidelines to the letter,” Dilkens said, the Windsor Star reported.


California Gov. Gavin Newsom admitted joining a dozen people at a Nov. 6 birthday party held at a five-star restaurant north of San Francisco, according to ABC.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, authorities were shutting off water and power to properties where parties were held in violation of state restrictions.

“While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner,” Newsom said in a statement, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago went to a salon and got a private haircut in April. But Illinois salons and barbershops had been required to close by a state stay-at-home order, according to NBC.

“I’m the public face of this city. I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye,” Lightfoot said at a press conference, according to NBC.


Austin Mayor Steve Adler hosted his daughter’s wedding in November and also vacationed with a group of people in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

This was after Adler had asked residents to stay home to slow the pandemic, according to the Texas Tribune.

“We need to stay home if you can,” Adler posted on Facebook on Nov. 9, according to the Texas Tribune. “We need to keep the numbers down. Now is not the time to relax.”

Adler said that when the video was recorded, he was in Mexico on vacation with eight people.

Two days earlier, 20 guests attended a hotel wedding reception hosted by Adler. At that time, the governor and other state residents were subject to state guidelines limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people.


In August, Nancy Pelosi went to a salon for a hair appointment that violated the city of San Francisco's COVID-19 rules, which had closed salons. There was video footage of Pelosi in the salon not wearing a mask, according to CNN.



Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.