Arlington County

Pence Criticized for Photo in Arlington Office Without Masks, Social Distancing

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Vice President Mike Pence, chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is facing criticism for visiting a crowded campaign office in Arlington, Virginia, with no apparent face masks or social distancing. 

Pence visited a reelection campaign office in Arlington on Wednesday afternoon and a photo was posted to his Twitter feed. It showed the vice president facing a large crowd of people packed together, all with their thumbs up. 

“Stopped by to see the great men and women of the Trump-Pence Team today! Thank you for all of the hard work, keep it up! #FourMoreYears #KAG,” it said. 

The tweet was deleted after Fairfax County Democratic consultant Ben Tribbett called attention to it. 

“This kind of gathering is banned,” he wrote.

The Trump-Pence campaign did not respond to an inquiry.

Tribbett said he wanted to show that what Pence and staffers did was unacceptable. But the Arlington commonwealth’s attorney said it was not in violation of the governor’s executive order. There are exemptions on crowd size rules for employees doing their work and for some government functions. 

Tribbett argued that even if it wasn’t illegal, it was not the right message to send. 

“The vice president is the head of the Coronavirus Task Force, so I think he’s well aware that what he was doing is wrong,” he said. 

He pointed out that the Trump-Pence campaigns sells face masks the whole group could have worn. 

Rep. Don Beyer, who represents Arlington, added his voice to the criticism. 

“It’s a terrible example,” he said. “Certainly when you are dealing with all those young people on a campaign, you want to be doing the right thing and demonstrating the behavior you want all of us to do.” 

President Donald Trump has faced repeated criticism for rarely donning a face mask. There have been Democratic lapses too, most notably by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. He issued a public apology after he broke the rules of his own executive order over Memorial Day weekend. 

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