Congressman Ted W. Lieu, along with 26 Members of Congress from California, called for an investigation Friday into allegations that the federal government improperly denied or delayed aid to California wildfire victims.
The letter follows allegations from a former Department of Homeland Security official that President Trump ordered FEMA to deny assistance to Californians because of the political demographics of the state.
"The President is elected to serve all the people of the United States. The notion that the President made decisions about disaster assistance based on the political preferences of disaster victims is alarming and carries with it possible legal implications. As such, we request an investigation into whether any inappropriate or illegal behavior has occurred with regards to California wildfire assistance," the letter to Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari of the Department of Homeland Security reads.
We ask that the investigation include but not be limited to the following questions:
Did the President or DHS officials improperly influence the issuance of any fire management assistance grant?
Did the President or DHS officials improperly delay granting or deny any requests for an emergency or major disaster declaration?
Did the President or DHS officials attempt to revoke or delay the distribution of any assistance that had already been granted to California fire victims?
Did the President or DHS officials improperly deny requests from the State of California to adjust state and local cost share requirements associated with debris removal and emergency protective measures assistance?
Wildfires that blackened skies, took at least five lives and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes have blazed through California — straining firefighting resources by the sheer vastness of the battle lines.
Three major collections of fires — dozens in all — carved their way Thursday through forests, canyons and rural areas in the San Francisco Bay Area and central California.
Tens of thousands of homes were threatened by flames that drove through dense and bone-dry trees and brush. Many of the fires were sparked by lightning strikes from brief thunderstorms this week as a high-pressure area over the West brought a dangerous mix of triple-digit weather and monsoonal moisture pulled from the south.