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A Democratic lawmaker from New York claimed that the pandemic was responsible for him voting by proxy, though he was actually partying at actress Issa Rae’s wedding on the French Riviera.
Rep. Mondaire Jones “employed the potentially misused perk on 17 pieces of legislation between July 19 and July 27, 2021, as he lived it up in France,” according to the New York Post, which first reported the news on Wednesday, citing “Instagram posts and online records.”
The paper continued:
The Democrat — who represents New York’s Hudson Valley but is currently in a crowded field vying for a new Park Slope-Lower Manhattan district — said au revoir to the hot and humid Washington, DC, summer while voting via a proxy while citing the “public health emergency.”
The allowance was enacted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to let COVID-stricken members vote as well as to reduce their potential exposure to the virus while traveling from their districts to the nation’s capital.
Jones employed the potentially misused perk on 17 pieces of legislation between July 19 and July 27, 2021, as he lived it up in France, Instagram posts and online records reveal.
Jones and Rae have been friends for a number of years. She is known for the films “Insecure” (2016) and “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl (2011), among others.
During that period, several posts on Instagram in which the lawmaker is either tagged or featured show that he spent time with several people that included a number of entertainment industry types who traveled to Paris, Beaune, Bordeaux and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Jones, who is running for an open House seat in a crowded Democratic race that also includes former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, did not travel to Bordeaux, Versailles or Beaune, according to his campaign spokesperson. He =was in France to attend the star’s wedding however, the spokesperson confirmed.
To authorize votes be cast by someone else while he was out of the country, Jones wrote in a July 19 letter to the House clerk that he was “unable” to show up in person for votes due to the “ongoing public health emergency” — which is the standard language often used in proxy vote permission slips.
“I am unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency, and I hereby grant the authority to cast my vote by proxy to the Honorable Nikema Williams (Georgia), who has agreed to serve as my proxy,” he wrote alongside his signature, The Post reported.
While in France, Jones was seen with “a fashionable jet-setting group, three members of which either appeared in or worked on HBO show ‘Insecure’ co-created by Rae, who married Louis Diame on July 25 in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a French commune overlooking the Ligurian Sea,” The Post noted.
Jones, 35, and Rae, 37, both attended Stanford University. Jones graduated in 2009; the YouTuber, producer, and comedian Rae graduated two years earlier.
Rae, who is not in any of the photos but commented in at least one of them — hosted a fundraiser for Jones in August 2019 in Manhattan. There, she said, “We need people like him” in Congress.
.@IssaRae introducing @MondaireJones — running for Congress in NY-17: “We need people like him. We need more people of color, we need more young people, we need more Democrats who do what they say they’re going to.” pic.twitter.com/nERl4SLF75
— Monica Klein (@MonicaCKlein) August 24, 2019
Before the wedding, Jones’ proxy votes came on legislation including the Divided Families Reunification Act to help Korean-American families reunite with family members still trapped in North Korea; legislation to bar toxic carcinogens found in New York’s drinking water; and the annual budgets for the departments of Health, Labor, and Education.
“We know Mondaire is quite unfamiliar with New York City, but remote-control governance ain’t gonna cut it here,” a rival campaign insider on Wednesday scoffed to The Post. “Sending votes in from the south of France feels par for the course for MIA Mondaire.”
In response, an official with Mondaire’s campaign said the lawmaker had problem handing off his votes for a decidedly non-COVID-related reason.
“It’s hard to tell what The Post is more offended by, Mondaire Jones voting against Republicans multiple times or Mondaire Jones attending the wedding of his close friend, and absolute icon, Issa Rae,” campaign spokesperson Bill Neidhardt said in a statement.
“I know it makes the Post feel ‘Insecure,’ but Rep. Jones has no apologies for his votes against the GOP or for being with his good friend during the most important week of her life,” he quipped.
The Post said it’s not clear when Mondaire actually got to France as he could not provide a timeline.