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'Fined or shut down:' Florida congressman takes aim at Mar-a-Lago over New Year's party

In a letter to Palm Beach County's assistant county administrator, Rep. Omari Hardy says the club must comply with the county's mask order.
Credit: Florida House of Representatives

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida congressman is taking aim at President Donald Trump’s private club, Mar-a-Lago, following a New Year's celebration in which the lawmaker said video shows “none of the partygoers or entertainers at Mar-a-Lago were wearing masks.”

In a letter to Assistant County Administrator Todd Bonlarron, Florida District 88 Representative Omari Hardy, a democrat, said the club was in violation of the county’s mask order and urged the president’s club to “be fined or even shut down.”

Palm Beach County extended its mask order until Jan. 20 after the previous order expired on Dec. 21. The order mandates that masks be worn “in all businesses, establishments, and in public spaces.”

However, back in September, when Gov. Ron DeSantis advanced Florida into Phase 3 of its reopening plan, mask mandates across the state became harder to enforce. Counties could still mandate face masks, but the new order prevented local governments from collecting fines or penalties from people breaking those rules.

In Hardy’s letter to Bonlarron, he acknowledges the governor’s order, but said that he was told that it “does not diminish the County’s authority to enforce its mask mandate on businesses."

Hardy went on to say that “Mar-a-Lago is a club. A club is a business. Businesses must comply with Palm Beach County’s mask order.” 

President Trump, who was set to be at the New Years' celebration, cut his Florida holiday vacation short instead and returned to the White House on New Year's Eve. The party went on without him; and since then, videos said to be taken at the event were posted online.

Hardy makes reference to at least one of these videos in his letter to Bonlarron.

He later says that there is evidence to support his claims and that it "is all over the internet," adding that the party could become a super-spreader event.

As of this writing, Palm Beach County has reported 85,479 total COVID-19 cases with 1,909 deaths and more than 5,000 hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

You can read Hardy's full letter below.

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