California Senator Kamala Harris has gone on record asserting she had no knowledge of harassment allegations leveled against her top aide Larry Wallace. The allegations arose from incidents which occurred while Harris was serving as state Attorney General (AG). Now, in a piece by Alexei Koseff December 14, 2018, the Sacramento Bee reports the California Department of Justice (CDoJ), the agency Harris oversaw, knew about the complaint three months before Harris left her position in 2017. Is her assertion true and why should we care?
Is this all smoke or is there open flame?
Well, there was a lawsuit involving discrimination and retaliation allegations. The accused was Larry Wallace. Wallace’s former executive assistant, Danielle Hartley, filed the lawsuit before Harris was sworn in as a U.S. Senator. The lawsuit was settled for $400,000 according to the Bee’s report. So it seems logical that there was at least smoke. But was there fire?
Hartley’s complaint was filed in September 2016. Harris would have been AG and in full campaign mode. The suit alleged sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation by “Wallace and those who worked for him…” The lawsuit “named the Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement, as respondent and Wallace, the division’s director, as a co-respondent.”
Equal Employment Rights and Resolution Office (EERR) records show that the CDoJ was notified on Oct. 3, 2016. The notice identified the assistant and provided notice of planned legal action, again according to the Bee. If you were campaigning for higher office would you want to know about such a suit, in your department, on your watch? Probably… most of us would.
The complaint alleged Wallace frequently ordered Hartley to crawl under his desk to change the paper and ink in his printer. It also claimed he retaliated when she complained. Hartley’s attorney sought the immediate right to sue. The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 30, 2016, and settled for $400,000 in May 2017. Wallace resigned his position last week.
Is the matter ended?
So, this establishes there was a complaint against a Division Director who reported directly to Harris. This is more smoke but still no open flame. Harris asks that we believe her. She asks we believe she was ignorant of the situation, she continued to remain ignorant of the situation for three months and that she did not respond from that ignorance. So, is that reasonable?
We know Harris has ambitions to run for president in 2020. She told the Bee that she accepted “full responsibility for what happened” in her office. She said she wasn’t briefed on the complaint against Wallace calling it a communication breakdown. Harris told the Bee, “That’s what makes me upset about this… There’s no question I should have been informed about this. There’s no question. And there were ample opportunities when I could have been informed.”
What competent responsible campaign aide would have blocked that information? How could they have done so successfully… for three months from a candidate for U.S. Senate? Why would the CDoJ not communicate with the AG for three months about such a matter once it was raised against the department?
This leaves us with a decision. Was Harris only incompetent in running her campaign? Was she also negligent in her duty to the CDoJ? Is she lying to cover up? The standard for negligence is whether she knew or should have known. She admits she should have known, which seems like an admission, but if she did know she would certainly be guilty of negligence… at a minimum.
Harris has actively spoken in support of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment in the workplace. Is Senator Harris holding herself to the same standard to which she sought to hold Brett Kavanaugh in his confirmation hearing? Does this matter impact Harris’ credibility as a presidential aspirant? If you are #MeToo what do you believe? Was Hartley harassed? Did Harris meet the responsibility of her office as AG of California? What does your gut tell you?
Is the standard for the presidency now, one’s ability to maintain plausible deniability? Who are we anyway? As Americans are we still together in our principles and values? Is Integrity a cornerstone of character?