The embattled owner of the San Francisco salon where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi caused an uproar by getting her hair styled this week in violation of local coronavirus rules, says she is “done” with the business.
“The hard part of all this is I’ve been in that community for 12 years and since this happened, I’ve received nothing but hate — text messages, death threats, they’re going to burn my hair salon down. My Yelp page is just unbelievable with bad reviews,” eSalon owner Erica Kious told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “It’s sad that my community is pulling this when they’re saying I threw her under the bus when I didn’t…I think I’m pretty much done there.”
The controversy erupted after Fox posted security footage of the San Francisco Democrat inside the salon Monday without a mask on. At the time, Kious told Fox that a stylist who rents space from her had arranged the visit. Kious said she was outraged Pelosi would violate health orders — which don’t allow salons to operate indoors in the city — while so many salons and barbershops obeying the rules are struggling to survive.
Now, sympathizers — among them prominent conservatives who have called Pelosi a hypocrite for advocating mask wearing and then appearing without a mask — have raised more than $98,000 for Kious in just a couple of days so she can leave San Francisco.
According to a GoFundMe launched by former Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian, Kious “is now being forced to shut down and relocate her business and family due to outrage and threats she’s receiving.”
Kious told Carlson the economic toll of the pandemic shutdown orders are also to blame.
“We’re pretty much done. We’ve lost at least 60% of our clients. I’ve lost the majority of my staff,” Kious said. “Six months is a long time to be closed down.”
Kious has not responded to a request for comment from this news organization and it was not immediately clear if or where she planned to move.
But the offers are already rolling in. Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem issued an invitation for Kious to bring her business to the Mount Rushmore State.
“As a former female small business owner, I can only imagine how crushing these last few months have been,” Noem tweeted. “And now this!? Erika (sic), if you want to run your salon in a state that respects freedom and won’t shut you down, then South Dakota is open for you.”
The wave of conservative support for Kious came as the La Jolla-based lawyer for the stylist who worked on Pelosi’s hair, Jonathan DeNardo, issued a statement Thursday claiming Kious knew Pelosi was coming in and that she herself worked in the salon in violation of restrictions.
“Mr. DeNardo supports Ms. Kious’ efforts to pursue a re-opening of indoor services at salons such as eSalon,” said Soleiman APC partner Matthew Soleimanpour. “However, Mr. DeNardo simply wished to correct prior statements made by Ms. Kious to the media, which have damaged a professional relationship with his client, Speaker Pelosi, as well as that of his other clients who value their privacy.”
The dustup has proven to be a political headache for Pelosi, who instead of apologizing for breaking the rules and trying to put the embarrassing mistake behind her, said Wednesday she was set up and suggested the salon owed her an apology instead.
From President Donald Trump to local GOP officials like Harmeet Dhillon, conservatives — including some who have themselves blatantly disregarded science-backed health suggestions like mask wearing and social distancing that Pelosi has advocated for vocally — have seized on the incident to hammer the speaker for not taking her own advice.
During the White House press briefing Thursday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany played footage of Pelosi in the salon on a loop while roasting the speaker during her opening comments.
“Nancy Pelosi was not in the halls of Congress when I asked where she was,” McEnany said. “Nancy Pelosi was found in San Francisco at a hair salon where she was indoors…”
During a video call with reporters Thursday afternoon, a visibly shaken and at times tearful Kious read a prepared statement suggesting the idea that the video was a setup “totally false and outrageous,” and insisted it is the speaker who needs to say sorry, instead.
“I don’t owe anyone an apology,” said Kious, who said she was on a plane when the visit occurred and saw Pelosi passing through the salon without a mask shortly after landing. “Mrs. Pelosi owes the entire country an apology.”
Kious said that the reason for releasing the video was that if Pelosi, a woman in a high-risk age group, feels comfortable coming into a San Francisco salon and can be responsible and cautious, other Americans should be able to do the same.
“That was my point,” she said.
The response from Pelosi, a longtime congresswoman and considered one of the savviest politicians in Washington, has puzzled political analysts.
“Pelosi knows that the Trump campaign isn’t going to give her the benefit of the doubt. Ever. And that they are always on the lookout for proof that liberal leaders actually have two standards: One for them and one for everybody else,” wrote CNN’s Chris Cillizza in a piece entitled ‘Nancy Pelosi just handed Trump a campaign gift’.
“Given all of that, it’s hard to imagine why she would make a mistake like this one,” Cillizza wrote. “It’s a totally unforced error — and one that allows Trump — for a day or two, at least — to change the subject from his handling (or mishandling) of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic that has sickened more than 6 million Americans and killed almost 185,000.”