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Tennessee governor says he ignores his own mask advice if he personally 'feels safe'

Lee at Nashville restaurant.png
Posted at 6:41 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-26 23:59:55-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Thursday he does not always follow his own guidance to wear face masks and socially distance if he personally feels safe.

That attitude runs contrary to the governor's repeated insistence that Tennesseans should wear masks not only to protect themselves, but to protect others.

"There are circumstances where I don't wear a mask because I don't feel like I'm at risk in that situation," Lee said in response to questions from NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

"When I don't feel safe, I wear a mask."

It's the same argument that Lee's own critics have made about why they do not feel the need to wear masks.

Social media pictures recently emerged showing Lee crowded into the back of a boat with other Republican leaders during a pro-Trump boat parade.

None of them were wearing masks or social distancing.

Another pic discovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates shows the maskless governor with his arm around a Nashville restaurant owner.

Above their heads are signs admonishing customers of the need to wear masks and stay six feet apart.

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Gov. Bill Lee maskless in local restaurant

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Lee, "Do you have any regrets? Do you think you could do a better job of modeling what you say is good behavior?"

"You know, I think I do model that," the governor insisted.

"I think Tennesseans need to know and they hear me every day. They see me in masks every day. They watch what we say and what we do."

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and wife Maria at White House event

NewsChannel 5 Investigates recently spotted Lee and his wife in middle of a crowd of 1,500 people at the White House during the Republican National Convention.

Neither wore a mask and attendees were not six feet apart.