New York Democrat draws criticism for playing hockey amid rink restrictions

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been punctuated with headlines about elected officials violating the very restrictions they have endorsed as part of an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

As one recent example, a Democratic official in upstate New York is facing allegations that he violated coronavirus rules to play a game of hockey.

“Nothing wrong with that”

According to Fox News, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, a Republican, lodged the complaint against the county executive identified as Mark Poloncarz.

The controversy reportedly stemmed from county health officials’ decision to shut down Holiday Twin Rinks in Cheektowaga earlier in the month for planned hockey scrimmages. Video reportedly captured at the rink, however, shows Poloncarz on the ice at the Amherst location.

Poloncarz had previously defended his actions, insisting that he was only playing hockey alone and denouncing a “creepy” video posted by Mychajliw that showed the Democrat entering a vehicle with a hockey stick and bag.

According to a Poloncarz spokesperson, there was “nothing out of the ordinary” in his behavior and he did not violate any COVID-19 health recommendations.

“For the record, and in regards to the below tweet from the comptroller, I didn’t play hockey with my usual mates,” Poloncarz himself said in a tweet. “I got on the ice about a half-hour before they did to skate and shoot by myself and then left. Nothing wrong with that, though being followed is a bit creepy.”

“Rules for thee, but not for me”

Of course, plenty of politicians from across the U.S. have been caught in similar incidents, provoking public criticism as many Americans continue to lose patience with strict COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Nevertheless, Mychajliw expressed outrage over the “political hypocrisy” on display.

“I think it’s wonderful Mark Poloncarz plays hockey, shoots the puck around, while his friends engage in scrimmages,” the Republican said, according to Fox. “Kids and youth leagues should be able to do the same. My issue: political hypocrisy. Rules for thee, but not for me.”

For his part, Poloncarz said that he has had to increase his security detail because of the backlash against him, asserting: “Threats are horrendous. I’ve learned to live with it. But families shouldn’t have to learn to live with it. We need to be everyone better. We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

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