Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom trespassed at a home burned down in the recent wildfires for a political photo op, family members told KMPH-TV.
What are the details?
Harris and Newsom arrived Tuesday in Fresno County to survey areas that suffered major fire damage, the station said. The pair stopped at Pine Ridge Elementary in Auberry before heading across the street to look around the property surrounding a burned-down home, KMPH added.
Harris, a U.S. senator from California, was quoted as saying, “The fire just swept through. So everything is gone except the chimney. Those chimneys, they remind me — when you look at a neighborhood that’s been wiped out, those chimneys remind me of tombstones,” the station said.
But family members of the homeowners took issue with the presence of Harris and Newsom, saying they had no right to be there and did so for political gain, KMPH added.
Trampas Patten noted in a Facebook post that he’s the son of the homeowners:
“What has me really frustrated right now is the fact that these two politicians used my parents loss for a photo opportunity to push their political agenda!” he wrote. “Political party wouldn’t have made a difference in this moment. Decent human beings that have character and class wouldn’t air someone else’s misfortune on national television!”
In a KMPH video accompanying its story, Harris and Newsom appear to walk away from the home as a voice is heard saying, “OK, pool, we’re going to head back to the bus now. Think we got the shot, thank you.”
Bailee Patten told the station her family hasn’t had a chance to visit their home.
“When we saw those photos, it was — there aren’t words, because it’s like, we haven’t even seen our house,” she recalled to KMPH.
The home is still under an evacuation order, the station said, so the owners haven’t been able to check on it yet.
“This isn’t just devastation, this is our lives. This is where we grew up, these are our memories,” Bailee Patten noted to KMPH. “And to not have that — to feel so helpless — and I guess that’s what we’ve all been thinking, is that we were so helpless. Because we weren’t there, we haven’t gotten to deal with our loss. Instead, we’re having to watch it play out on social media and news.”
She added to the station that neither Newsom nor Harris have reached out to see if the family needs help.
What else did Harris and Newsom have to say?
As you might guess, Harris and Newsom couldn’t help placing blame for the fire on climate change.
“It is incumbent on us, in terms of the leadership of our nation, to take seriously the extreme changes in our climate,” Harris said, according to KMPH.
Newsom posted the following on Twitter:
“Do you want this kind of leadership, using you and your loss for political gain?!” Trampas Patten wondered in his Facebook post.
“What you did do is take my [family’s] loss and parade it all over social media and news networks to push your agenda,” Bailee Patten noted in her Facebook post.
Newsom didn’t reply after KMPH reached regarding the station’s story, but Harris’ communications director told a KMPH reporter, “I’m not going to have anything about that,” and declined to comment further.