SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A testy Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she takes responsibility for trusting the word of a San Francisco hair salon that it was OK to come in for a solo visit — even though the city still does not allow indoor beauty services because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the Democratic House Speaker called Monday’s visit a “set-up” and said the salon owes her an apology for misrepresenting city health orders.
“I take responsibility for trusting the word of a neighborhood salon that I’ve been to over the years many times, and that when they said … we’re able to accommodate people one person at a time, and that we can set up that time, I trusted that,” Pelosi told reporters Wednesday. “As it turns out, it was a set-up.”
“I take responsibility for falling for a set-up,” she said.
An attorney for the man who did her hair also said Pelosi appeared to have been set up.
Matthew Soleimanpour said his client received permission from the salon owner a day earlier to make the appointment.
During that telephone call the owner, Erica Kious, “made several vitriolic and incendiary comments about Speaker Pelosi,” Soleimanpour said in a statement.
“It appears Ms. Kious is furthering a set-‐up of Speaker Pelosi for her own vain aspirations,” the statement said.
Pelosi is facing fierce backlash after Fox News Channel aired surveillance footage from the salon that showed her walking through the salon with her hair wet and with a mask around her neck rather than on her face. In the clip, a masked stylist follows her.
Critics, including President Donald Trump, called her a hypocrite and asked why she did not know the coronavirus-related rules in her home city.
Kious, owner of ESalon SF in the city’s upscale Cow Hollow district, told Fox News that she rents chairs to stylists, and one of them informed her in advance that Pelosi wanted a wash and blow dry. California guidelines on salons vary by county, but stringent San Francisco officials have not yet permitted indoor salons to open.
Kious said she considered Pelosi getting her hair done “a slap in the face” to struggling business owners.
However, in his statement, Soleimanpour said photographs and other information show that Kious had been performing indoor services since at least April without wearing a mask, and she also had been encouraging “and almost forcing stylists” to work.
Kious did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press.
Health order violations can be punished by a fine, imprisonment or both. But San Francisco has stressed education over enforcement and has been reluctant to penalize businesses and individuals.
Pelosi said Wednesday she would not answer any more questions about the visit and asked at one point whether reporters had any questions “about the fact that people are dying,” referring to the HEROES Act legislation she called the news conference to address.
A reporter asked why she was not wearing a mask in the brief clip.
“I just had my hair washed. I don’t wear a mask when I’m washing my hair. Do you wear a mask when you’re washing your hair? I always have a mask,” Pelosi said.
Associated Press news associate Cheyanne Mumphrey in Phoenix contributed to this report.