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The ad takes Harris’ comments out of context. She did not say any particular race would be prioritized in relief efforts.
An advocacy group led by an aide to former President Donald Trump claims in a TV ad that the Biden administration has been racist against white people in awarding federal relief.
The ad is from America First Legal, a group founded by Stephen Miller, who was a senior adviser in Trump’s White House.
"When did racism against white people become OK?" a narrator says as the ad opens over a montage of white people.
The ad makes a number of race-based attacks, including one targeting President Joe Biden, with the narrator saying Biden "put white people last in line for COVID relief funds."
The ad also says: "Kamala Harris said disaster aid should go to nonwhite citizens first."
The 30-second TV spot, along with a radio version, began airing in the final days before the Nov. 8 elections. Politico reported it appeared in Georgia markets. Georgia’s toss-up U.S. Senate race could determine which party controls the Senate, which is now split 50-50.
The Washington Post Fact Checker and FactCheck.org reported that there was an effort under Biden to let minority groups get in line first for restaurant relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many white people, such as women and veterans, had equal access.
But the ad takes Harris’ comments out of context. She did not say any particular race would be prioritized in relief efforts. Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida in October said something similar, which we rated False.
Miller launched America First Legal in April 2021, saying it would use "our legal system to defend our society and our families from any unlawful actions by the left."
The America First Legal ad referenced a Sept. 30 story on the Daily Wire as its source.
The Daily Wire is a website founded by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. It published three stories that day criticizing comments it said Harris made at the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. — an event that took place Sept. 30, two days after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida.
America First Legal did not respond to our email requests for information to back up its claim about Harris. But in response to a Washington Post Fact Checker fact-check of its ad, the group tweeted a 40-second excerpt of Harris’ remarks. The clip left out the question Harris was asked.
The excerpt came from an interview Harris gave actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas. The full exchange shows Chopra Jonas asking a meandering question that touched on several topics — Hurricane Ian, climate change policy and disparities in who is most harmed by climate change and extreme weather.
"Can you talk just a little bit about the relief efforts, obviously, of Hurricane Ian and what the administration has been doing to address the climate crisis in the states?" Chopra Jonas asked.
Before Harris could answer, Chopra Jonas added a follow-up question: "We consider the global implications of emissions. The poorest countries are affected the most, they contribute the least and are affected the most. So how should voters in the U.S. feel about the administration’s long-term goals when it comes to being an international influencer on this topic?"
Harris responded first by touting $369 billion in funding in the Inflation Reduction Act "dedicated to addressing the climate crisis," which she said is a crisis "evidenced by Ian, by the wildfires happening in California, the floods, the hurricanes."
Harris said she thought about climate policy "in terms of the human toll," and was not talking specifically about relief efforts when she made her comments about equity.
"I know we are all thinking about the families in Florida, in Puerto Rico with (Hurricane) Fiona, and what we need to do to help them in terms of an immediate response and aid, but also what we need to do to help restore communities, and build communities back up in a way that they can be resilient, not to mention adapt to these extreme weather conditions, which are part of the future," Harris said.
Harris then addressed Chopra Jones’ "point about disparities." She described an environmental justice unit she started when she was San Francisco district attorney that focused on "the disparities issue you have described, rightly." She said "it is our lowest-income communities and communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions, and impacted by issues that are not of their own making."
"So, we have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity, understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity, understanding that not everybody starts out at the same place."
A White House spokesperson told us that Harris was addressing "long-term climate resilience investments passed with strong bipartisan support."
America First Legal claimed in an ad that Harris said "disaster aid should go to nonwhite citizens first."
The ad takes Harris’ comments out of context. She did not say any particular race would be prioritized in disaster relief efforts.
We rate the claim False.
Twitter, Waleed Shahid tweet, Nov. 1, 2022
Twitter, America First Legal tweet, Nov. 4, 2022
Politico, "America First Legal ad," Oct. 30, 2022
PolitiFact, "No, Kamala Harris didn’t say Hurricane Ian relief would be based on skin color," Oct. 3, 2022
The Associated Press, "Harris comments on addressing climate inequity misrepresented," Oct. 4, 2022
FactCheck.org, "FactChecking ads’ claims of ‘anti-white bigotry,’" Nov. 2, 2022
Washington Post Fact Checker, "Stephen Miller’s disingenuous ad charging ‘anti-White’ racism," Nov. 4, 2022
Daily Wire, "Biden’s restaurant relief program excludes white male owners," May 12, 2021
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