The owner of the San Francisco salon where Nancy Pelosi had her hair done fought back tears as she again denied setting up the House speaker, who she insisted should be the one to apologize to the American people, according to reports.
Erica Kious, owner of eSalon, on Monday released a video of Pelosi walking around her business bare-faced, sparking charges of hypocrisy in light of the lawmaker’s frequent calls to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously.
Kious has said she rents out chairs to independent stylists and claimed she did not leak the video for “political” reasons.
“Hairstylists and other small business owners in San Francisco and elsewhere are doing what they need to do to survive,” Kious said in a virtual news conference Thursday evening, ABC 7 reported.
“The point of releasing this video was to show a woman in a high-risk age group who spends much of her time on TV warning about the dangers of COVID-19, feel safe and comfortable in a San Francisco salon, and can be responsible for being cautious and mindful,” Kious said.
“Why can’t the rest of San Francisco and the rest of America do that too?” she added.
Kious claimed independent stylist Jonathan Denardo made the arrangements with Pelosi to visit the salon and that she was not involved.
“I understand Mrs. Pelosi says she was set up by me to come into the salon and be filmed,” she said, according to the local CBS affiliate.
“Of course, since I had no contact with Mrs. Pelosi or her team for any of this and Jonathan is the only one they communicated with, if there was a setup, it only could have been Jonathan who orchestrated it,” Kious continued.
“In fact, not only did I not set her up, her assertion that she is a victim and set up is totally false and outrageous,” she added.
Kious said that as independent contractors, stylists are not required to ask her permission, adding that she had received a text from Denardo that he had arranged the appointment.
The owner explained that she decided to release the footage when she saw that Pelosi was not wearing a mask.
“I realized that it is absurd that she felt safe and gets to choose to go to the salon while others are prevented by state and local restrictions from making the same choice,” Kious said.
“In other words, I want salons to be open. I wanted her visit to be proof that even she knows it is safe to go to the salon,” she said, adding that the speaker was trying to scapegoat and defame Denardo and herself with her “lies.”
“For Speaker Pelosi to frame herself as a victim under a total false narrative while small businesses and workers all over California, the state she represents, suffer and struggle just to survive is beyond shameful,” Kious said as she became increasing upset, according to the CBS outlet.
Toward the end of the press conference on Zoom, she got emotional and appeared to be near tears.
When Kious was asked if she had released images or footage of any other clients or if it was just Pelosi, she replied, “Yes,” before the conference was abruptly ended.
On Wednesday, Denardo released a statement through his lawyer claiming Kious approved Pelosi’s appointment and backed her assertion that the indoor salon visit was a setup.
Denardo also said in a statement that Kious had also made “several vitriolic and incendiary comments about Speaker Pelosi” about suspended operations at the business — although those orders were put in place by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
The stylist’s attorney also said his office was “in possession of photographs, videos and witness information that Ms. Kious, contrary to her prior statements to the press, has actually been operating her business during the stay-at-home orders and similar executive orders limiting in-store operations since as far back as April 2020.”
The statement added: “Kious is seen in photographs and video footage styling various clients’ hair, ignoring social distancing guidelines, and not wearing protective equipment (masks), as recently as a few days prior to Speaker Pelosi’s arrival at eSalon on August 31.”
Denardo’s attorney told ABC 7 that his client and all stylists at the salon have quit and removed their belongings, adding that his office and Denardo have “been receiving rather steady death threats.”
“He stands by his comments but, again, has nothing further to add at this time,” the lawyer said.