- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 17, 2020

A California family is outraged after they say Gov. Gavin Newsom and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris used their burned-out home for a photo opportunity without their permission Tuesday.

Mr. Newsom and Mrs. Harris arrived in Fresno County for a tour of the Creek Fire damage, where they surveyed a destroyed home near the Pine Ridge Elementary school in Auberry, FOX26 reported.

“Spent time surveying a burn site with @GavinNewsom in an area that has been devastated by the recent wildfires in California,” Mrs. Harris, running mate of Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden, tweeted Tuesday evening.

Her tweet included a picture showing herself and the governor in front of what appears to be what’s left of the living room, with a brick fireplace being the only fixture left standing behind them.

A man named Trampas Patten posted on Facebook that he immediately recognized the fireplace in the photos.

“For the friends of mine that don’t recognize the fireplace in the background, that is what is left of my parents house!” wrote Mr. Patten, who said he is the son of the homeowners, FOX26 reported. “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!”

Mr. Patten’s sister, Bailee Patten, said their parents haven’t been able to return to the home yet because Auberry Road is still under an evacuation order.

“When we saw those photos, it was — there aren’t words, because it’s like, we haven’t even seen our house,” Ms. Patten told FOX26. “We haven’t seen our property. There is no house, we haven’t even seen our property.

“This isn’t just devastation, this is our lives,” she continued. “This is where we grew up, these are our memories. 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.”

Ms. Patten said neither Mr. Newsom nor Mrs. Harris have reached out to see if their family needs help.

Mr. Newsom did not respond to FOX26’s request for comment on the family’s statements.

Mrs. Harris‘s communications director responded, “I’m not going to have anything about that,” before hanging up, the station reported.

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