During media appearances on CNN, MSNBC, and local TV news outlets on Monday afternoon, Democrat State Senator Tina Polsky told viewers she wants Governor Ron DeSantis to pull his nomination of Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo because of his refusal to put on a mask prior to a meeting with Polsky, who cited her recent breast cancer diagnosis as the basis for the mask policy.
But video and photographic evidence show that Polsky spent time in close proximity with unmasked Democrats, including at least one on the same day as her scheduled meeting with Ladapo. She later admitted she hasn’t been consistent in following the policy herself.
In addition to a photo mentioned Monday morning by Politico, which showed Polsky meeting with State Senator Shevrin Jones on October 12th, more recent video has since surfaced showing Polsky sitting in close proximity to fellow Democrat State Senator Loranne Ausley. That meeting occurred during an Agriculture Committee hearing on October 20th, the same day as the incident with the Surgeon General.
While Polsky arrived at the meeting with Ausley and others wearing a mask, she removed it completely after taking her seat. Neither Polsky nor Ausley wore masks for the 35-minute duration of the meeting. Polsky can be seen leaning closely to speak with Ausley at the conclusion of the meeting.
The meeting set for that same day with Ladapo never actually took place, because Polsky said the appointment resulted in a standoff after he indicated he didn’t want to wear a mask, and she denied him access to her office. After he offered a compromise, Polsky said she refused, and cancelled the meeting.
“I have a strict mask policy in my office,” Polsky explained to viewers on MSNBC on Monday afternoon. “I take a lot of meetings, as you can imagine, with groups of people.”
Polsky also told viewers that no one has ever questioned her office masking policy through “dozens of meetings” and that Lapado was the first person to ever refuse to wear a mask.
It’s not clear when Polsky began enforcing the office masking policy. When asked about the video and photos of Polksy appearing with unmasked colleagues, her office acknowledged she hasn’t consistently applied the policy, but insists that Ladapo should have done so when requested rather than attempt to move the meeting outside where both might be more comfortable.
“Although I have certainly not been perfect about wearing a mask I have never declined to wear one when someone has asked me to do so,” Polsky told The Capitolist. “I am also very thankful that the Senate President agrees that this is an issue of respect and decorum. The bottom line is the Surgeon General should have respected my wishes.”
The initial controversy broke over the weekend, when the incident between Polsky and Ladapo first broke. Media outlets and political leaders on both sides of the aisle were sympathetic to Polsky. But after social media users posted images of a maskless Polsky appearing in close proximity with another maskless state senator, Lauren Book, Polsky dismissed that controversy by suggesting that the photo was taken prior to her diagnosis and prior to her mask policy being implemented.
“Guess it never occurred to you geniuses that one can post old pictures. It’s an amazing technology. But thanks so much for your comments. Very helpful,” Polsky replied on Twitter.
Soon after, however, social media users unearthed the previously mentioned photo with State Senator Shevrin Jones, cross referenced with a video of Jones wearing the same outfit on October 12th, proving the photo was taken the same day. Video also later emerged showing Polsky attending a meeting with Jones. All were maskless in that meeting, too. That photo, which garnered a number of reposts, was captioned “Oops.”
Polsky did not reply to that post but responded to an inquiry about it from Politico reporter Marc Caputo. Polsky’s defense, similar to the quote she provided to The Capitolist about her meeting with Ausley on October 20th, was published in Politico’s Monday morning newsletter, Playbook.
Here’s the original Twitter photo showing Polsky with Jones on October 12th:
— State Senator Tina Polsky (@TinaPolsky) October 12, 2021
This story was edited to include the fact that Senator Polsky made two additional national television appearances yesterday, one on CNN and a second appearance on MSNBC to call for Surgeon General Ladapo’s nomination to be pulled over the masking disagreement. Polsky also appeared on local news stations in Florida to discuss the incident.