Staffers and pages in the South Carolina Senate are still being forced to wear face coverings at the State House (ostensibly to guard against the spread of Covid-19) – although the lawmakers responsible for imposing these mandates are refusing to follow their own rules.
“Masks for thee, not for we …”
It should … after all, this has been the modus operandi of those in power from the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations on the wane, you would think mask mandates would be falling out of fashion. Less than forty-eight hours before U.S. president Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, for example, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives dropped its mask mandate.
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Why is the “Republican-controlled” S.C. Senate still imposing such a diktat? Good question … but perhaps the better question is why senators (Democrats and “Republicans” alike) are refusing to abide by the same rules they are imposing on their subordinates.
I spoke this week with a pair of staffers in the Senate – and one page – who told me they were tired of the hypocrisy. All three of these individuals – who were granted anonymity so as to speak without fear of retribution – told me the policy imposed by Senate president Thomas Alexander and Senate clerk Jeffrey S. Gossett is a joke.
“It has turned those charged with securing the chamber into nothing but hall monitors ratting people out,” one staffer lamented. “Unless it is a senator who is not wearing their mask – in which case they nod and bow.”
“Cops are acting like Karens,” another staffer told me.
One Senate page told me they witnessed staffers in the office of S.C. Senate sergeant-at-arms Charles D. Williams accosting a male page who was wearing a mask below his nose.
“He was approached and told to pull up his mask twice during a 45-minute session,” the page told me.
None of the staffers or pages I spoke with blamed Williams’ office for the selective enforcement of the mask mandate.
“They are scared of not enforcing the Senate rules,” the page said, referring to Williams and his men.
Of course, the mask mandate is not technically a rule passed by the Senate – it is an edict issued by the clerk with the blessing of Alexander (one of dozens of senators who does not wear a mask in the chamber).
I have been a staunch opponent of mask mandates, although I have consistently called upon those pushing such edicts to “walk their talk.” Ironically, former Senate president Harvey Peeler was also an ardent mask mandate opponent.
Peeler stepped down as president of the Senate late last year following the death of the chamber’s longtime finance committee chairman, Hugh Leatherman.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that “Battleship Chains” Norfolk Tides’ lid pictured above).
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