A California family blasted Governor Gavin Newsom and Senator Kamala Harris for trespassing in the charred remains of their home in a rural area near Fresno, saying the Democrats were using the photo-op to push a political agenda.
Harris, who is running for vice president as Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, accompanied Newsom on Tuesday to Auberry, in Fresno County. They posed for cameras in front of a home devastated by the Creek Fire and tweeted about firefighters and climate change.
Spent time surveying a burn site with @GavinNewsom in an area that has been devastated by the recent wildfires in California. I’m incredibly grateful for the courage of our brave firefighters and those who have come near and far to help those fleeing the destruction. pic.twitter.com/EHSUPgkOsl
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 15, 2020
There was only one problem – the family whose house they used as the backdrop for their photo op never gave them permission to enter their property, and fumed on social media afterwards.
“That truck you are standing by is my dad[‘]s work truck. He has had that thing for as long as I can remember. That land with all the rubble [you’re] standing next too, that’s my house I grew up in,” Bailee Patten said on Facebook. “You never got my parents permission to go on our property, nor did you ask if we needed help. What you did do is take my [family’s] loss and parade it all over social media and news networks to push your agenda.”
Her brother Trampas was furious as well, blasting“these two politicians” for using his family’s loss for a photo opportunity. His animosity wasn’t partisan, however.
“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!” he added.
While his parents haven’t been allowed back into Auberry “to sort through what is left of their lives,” the governor and the VP candidate “felt the need to go traipsing around” their property without permission, Trampas Patten noted.
When Senator Kamala Harris and Governor Gavin Newsom visited the scene of the Creek Fire Tuesday, they took pictures in what’s left of a burned home. I spoke with the people who own that house, who say the politicians were there without their permission, and they want an apology. pic.twitter.com/KTFfhNJHrj
— Marie Edinger KMPH (@MarieEdinger) September 17, 2020
“This isn’t just devastation, this is our lives. This is where we grew up, these are our memories,” Bailee Patten later told Fresno’s KMPH-TV, a local Fox affiliate. The entire area remains under evacuation orders, so her parents have yet to be allowed back into Auberry to visit the property themselves.
Neither Newsom nor Harris have responded to KMPH’s requests for comment, the station said.
The Auberry photo-op took place during the same trip that saw Harris receive fawning attention from her sympathizers and mainstream media for wearing Timberland boots.
In a video clip shown by KMPH, one of their staffers can be heard telling the accompanying media “OK, pool…think we got the shot,” after which Harris and Newsom turn to walk away from the Pattens’ house.
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