Following the example of outgoing President Donald Trump, most Republican lawmakers have frequently dismissed the threat posed by the pandemic that's killed over 250 thousand Americans.
Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL)—a loyal follower of Trump—is one of those lawmakers.
In the early stages of the pandemic, Gaetz wore a gas mask on the House floor to mock those urging Americans to wear masks in public in order to stop the spread.
Gaetz has decried lockdown measures and amplified Trump's rampant disinformation regarding the virus.
On Thursday, 1,780 people died from the virus.
That same night, Gaetz attended a gala in New Jersey for the New York Young Republicans with over 150 other people, with nearly all guests violating New Jersey's mask mandate. The event was orchestrated in secrecy and the restaurant that hosted it has since been shut down.
Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy decried the event and sharply criticized Gaetz for attending it.
I can't get enough of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. @GovMurphy for the win... pic.twitter.com/zoJpeqeuFs
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) December 4, 2020
"That guy in the middle, the tall, handsome fella in the gray suit, that is Representative Matt Putz - oh sorry, Matt Gaetz, and based upon his past performances, it is obvious being a knucklehead is not beyond the pale for him. He was actually Sarah Palin's backup act for this event. ... What a fool."
"I hope you're watching Matt -- you are not welcome in New Jersey, and frankly I don't ever want you back in this state,"
Murphy repeated his reprimand of Gaetz on Twitter, and Gaetz soon snidely responded.
Thank you for calling me handsome, Governor!
I'm only considered handsome in New Jersey, though.
In Florida I'm barely a roundup 6. https://t.co/BtyHDflaSM
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) December 4, 2020
Twitter users shared Murphy's ire for the Congressman's recklessness.
This is one of the greatest political body slams. https://t.co/GKM1NB6uBt
— Jim Hague (@JimHague9) December 4, 2020
this just sent me.
i'd no idea @GovMurphy could do shade like this. https://t.co/ZA3UrEnkGv
— scott poulson-bryant (@SPBPHD) December 4, 2020
Gaetz's attempt at shade was less well-received.
I think you are a gigantic asshole in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) December 4, 2020
when do you work? or do you roundup to 40 hours every week?
— Kevin McLean (@mcleank22) December 4, 2020
When is the last time you made one of your constituents lives better?
— Borgnine, Mets - 3 (Top 7) (@IrishImposition) December 4, 2020
We'll be using the universal scale of Face Only a Mother Could Love...
— MoMo (@MoiraStotler) December 4, 2020
Officials in Jersey City are investigating the event.