GOP Official In Ohio Says Wildfires Are ‘God’s Punishment’ For ‘Liberals In California’

First responders attempt to contain a wildfire in California.
David McNew / Getty Images

The chairman of the Democratic Party of Columbiana County in Ohio is calling on his Republican counterpart to resign following a Facebook post by the latter assigning blame for the California wildfires on liberals in the state.

Republican County Chairman Dave Johnson posted an image on his personal Facebook page that showed the destruction being wrought by fires across the Golden State. Superimposed on those images were two separate captions, one reading that the fires were “God’s Punishment to Liberal California,” and the other stating, “Hell on Earth, brought to you by Liberals in California.”

Democratic Party Chairman David Betras wrote a statement expressing his disgust with Johnson’s posting, according to reporting from WFMJ.

“Hundreds of firefighters, other First Responders, and volunteers put their lives at risk in an attempt to rescue victims. I’ve been asking myself why anyone would politicize or make light of this very real human tragedy.”

Betras also called Johnson “disturbed” and a “coward,” and called for him to resign as party chair — as well as from other positions he holds, including his service as a member of the Columbiana County Board of Elections.

Following his post getting noticed, the pictures were removed from Johnson’s Facebook page. However, the Democratic Party of Columbiana County took screenshots and posted them to their own page.

When reached for comment, Johnson seemed to double-down on his original post. He again assigned blame toward liberals in the state for policies which he said led to the widespread fires.

“California has been overtaken by liberals who have taxed and over-regulated the state,” Johnson wrote. “There are changes that could have been made which would have helped prevent the deadly fires had there been proper management of forests, but the timber industry is not allowed. The firefighters and people’s lives should never have been put in jeopardy. They did not have to die and people did not have to lose their lives, homes, and everything they own.”

There are many who doubt, however, that forest management practices and environmental regulations implemented by the state of California had much to do with the fires spreading, per PolitiFact. For starters, only 2 percent of the state’s forests are managed by California, with 60 percent being managed by the federal government.

Other factors are likely at play. Wind speeds of 60 miles per hour, coupled with extreme drought in the state, has made it impossible for firefighters to contain the blazes. It’s possible, according to many scientists who have researched the issue, that the drought was brought on by climate change, per reporting from the New York Times.