Oregon County GOP Leader Says She'll Defy Lockdown Orders for Thanksgiving

An elected official in Clackamas County, Oregon has said she will defy the governor's recent coronavirus lockdown restrictions for Thanksgiving.

Tootie Smith, who is set to start her term as GOP chairwoman of the Clackamas Board of County Commissioners in January, recently shared a Facebook post to say she would be celebrating the holiday with "as many family and friends as I can find."

It comes in direct contravention of COVID-19 restrictions brought in by Governor Kate Brown in response to a surge in new cases. Oregon Health Authority data shows that hospitalizations have gone up by 56 percent in the last fortnight.

Brown on Friday imposed the new state-wide "freeze" order, which includes limits on social gatherings to no more than six people, according to Oregon Live. The measure will last at least two weeks and will span the Thanksgiving holiday on November 26.

The governor's office reportedly cited emergency powers granted to her by Oregon law with violators facing up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,250, or both.

But this did not deter Smith, who wrote on Facebook the next day that she would not be abiding by Brown's order.

What Tootie Smith has said

Smith shared a graphic on Facebook on Friday, which read: "My family will celebrate Thanksgiving with as many family and friends as I can find. Gov Brown is WRONG to order otherwise."

My family will celebrate Thanksgiving with as many family and friends as I can find. Gov Brown is WRONG to order otherwise.

She added in a second post on Sunday: "As for my family, it is always their choice to celebrate Thanksgiving or any other holiday. The people I represent are informed, intelligent and educated citizens of the US and Clackamas County.

"They understand the guidelines set forth for COVID prevention listed by the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]: wear masks in public, wash hands, six feet distancing and stay home when sick.

"I believe my citizens can make their own informed decisions and maintain their personal rights."

Her posts sparked thousands of comments across her profile and public page—some supporting her stance and others severely condemning it.

One commenter said: "We need more Oregonians like you!!" and another wrote: "Thank you for standing up again (sic) this dictator we unfortunately call our Governor."

But others expressed horror at the comments, saying: "People like you ARE the problem! In Oregon and America! Shame on You!"

Another wrote: "I am a nurse. Your ignorance in the face of a global pandemic is heartbreaking. You would put your family, friends, community, health care providers, and first responders in harm's way? ...Who raised you? Wolves?"

Smith later told Oregon Live that Brown's restrictions are over the top and that she has been in contact with "hundreds if not thousands of people who are up in arms about this."

She declined to tell the outlet how many people she will host on Thanksgiving but confirmed that it would be more than six people from multiple households.

On being asked if she was concerned about the potential punishment for breaching the restrictions, she said: "Well, I don't know if there's going to be a knock at the door. But I'm going to, in my very private home with my family, continue to celebrate this holiday and Christmas as well."

Newsweek has contacted Tootie Smith, the Governor's Office and Clackamas County Sheriff's Office for comment.