SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The owner of the San Francisco salon that hosted a visit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this week on Thursday gave an emotional denial that she set Pelosi up, despite having provided the surveillance video that prompted the controversy.
Erica Kious, the owner of eSalon on Union Street where Pelosi had an indoor styling appointment on Monday afternoon, spoke about the accusations during a Zoom news conference with reporters Thursday.
She insisted it was independent stylist Jonathan Denardo who made 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. 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 set up, it only could have been Jonathan who orchestrated it,” said Kious. “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.”
Kious said that she received a text from Denardo that he had already arranged the appointment and said she was never asked for permission, saying that as independent contractors, stylists were not required to ask her permission.
While Kious claimed that she “had nothing to do with this,” she also came out in public on Tuesday as the person who reportedly provided the surveillance video of Pelosi in the salon to Fox News.
“When I saw that she wasn’t even 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.”
Kious went on to say that Pelosi 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.
During the brief press conference, Kious became progressively more upset, stumbling as she read a statement and apologizing repeatedly. Towards the end of the press conference, her speech became halting as she got emotional and was close to tears.
When Kious was asked if she had released photos or video of any other clients that had received service at the salon or if it was just Pelosi, she replied, “yes,” and the press conference was brought to an abrupt end.
Earlier on Thursday, a small group of protesters gathered outside Pelosi’s home in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, calling on the Speaker to return to Washington to work on legislation that would provide California workers with more financial assistance.
Through his lawyer, on Wednesday Jonathan Denardo released a statement saying Kious approved the appointment for Pelosi and backed the House Speaker’s assertion that the indoor salon visit was a setup.
Denardo also said through an attorney’s statement that Kious had also made “several vitriolic and incendiary comments about Speaker Pelosi,” regarding suspended operations at the salon, despite the fact that those orders were put in place by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
Denardo’s lawyer also said their 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.”
According to the lawyer’s statement, “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.”