With Her Offices Closed to the Public, Cortez Masto Braves COVID To Attend Posh DC Gala

Nevada Democrat's 'abundance of caution' keeps out constituents but does not stop her from accepting liberal energy group's award

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D., Nev.) accepts an award from ACORE / Twitter
March 31, 2022

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto's official offices in Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, and Reno were closed to the general public this month due to the coronavirus. That didn't stop the Nevada Democrat from attending a posh D.C. gala to accept an award from a liberal energy group.

On March 23, Cortez Masto appeared at the American Council on Renewable Energy's 20th anniversary gala to accept the nonprofit group's "renewable energy champion award." The Democrat did not wear a mask at the event, nor did the hundreds of other attendees, according to American Council on Renewable Energy social media posts.

The day before, a video obtained by the Washington Free Beacon shows, Cortez Masto's Las Vegas office was closed to the general public, with a sign on the door noting that the office "is open by appointment only." The Democrat's Reno office featured a similar sign in photos taken Tuesday. Cortez Masto's D.C. office, meanwhile, was deserted and featured a "cleaning not required" sign just days before the American Council on Renewable Energy gala.

Cortez Masto's decision to keep her staff—and her constituents—out of her taxpayer-funded offices comes "out of [an] abundance of caution and for the health and safety of Nevadans," states a sign outside of the Democrat's Las Vegas office, which remained posted as of Tuesday. But Cortez Masto did not feel the need to act with an "abundance of caution" when it came to her attendance at the American Council on Renewable Energy's opulent affair, which featured "many of the nation's most important renewable developers," "major corporate energy users," and "an array of important government officials and foundation supporters."

Cortez Masto spokeswoman Lauren Wodarski told the Free Beacon the Democrat's offices "have been and continue to be staffed and open to assist Nevadans." Wodarski did not answer a string of questions on whether the offices are being staffed by teleworkers and whether the offices are still accepting visitors "by appointment only."

Cortez Masto is far from the only Senate Democrat to maintain work-from-home policies more than two years after the pandemic broke out in the United States. As of two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D., N.Y.) office was shuttered in the middle of the workday. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) and Patty Murray (D., Wash.) were also not accepting visits from constituents at the time. Like Cortez Masto, Whitehouse said the policy came "out of an abundance of caution."

Unlike many of her Democratic Senate colleagues, however, Cortez Masto faces a difficult reelection campaign in 2022. According to a March 25 Blueprint Polling survey, Cortez Masto trails prospective opponent and former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt by 7 points. The same poll showed former president Donald Trump with a double-digit lead over President Joe Biden in Nevada in a hypothetical 2024 rematch—Biden won the state by more than 2 points just a year and a half ago.

The American Council on Renewable Energy's fondness of Cortez Masto may stem from her long anti-oil voting history. In 2017, Cortez Masto repeatedly voted against energy exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Three years later, the Democrat penned an op-ed that called to curtail federal oil and gas leasing. And in 2021, Cortez Masto voted against amendments that advanced the Keystone XL pipeline and canceled the Biden Administration's "ban on oil and gas leasing on federal land." 

Cortez Masto joined the Senate in 2017, replacing the late Harry Reid, a former Senate majority leader who represented Nevada in the upper chamber for three decades. Laxalt is the favorite to take on Cortez Masto in November—he leads primary opponent Sam Brown by nearly 40 points, according to a March 23 WPA Intelligence poll.