Sacramento Newspaper Slams Kamala Harris for Denying Knowledge of Harassment Lawsuit Against Top Aide

Senator Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) / Getty Images
• December 7, 2018 10:39 am

The Sacramento Bee editorial board slammed Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) over her claim to have no knowledge of a harassment lawsuit against one of her longtime aides, saying her excuse was "far-fetched" and not knowing about it was unacceptable.

"For Harris to flatly deny any knowledge of this settlement seems, shall we say, far-fetched. For the moment, let’s take her at her word," the Bee board wrote. "A second and equally troubling interpretation is that Harris isn’t a terribly good manager, and that her staff was insulating her from information critical to the performance of her duties. This is hardly a propitious beginning to a presidential candidacy."

The Bee broke the news this week that Larry Wallace, who has known Harris for 14 years, had been sued by his former executive assistant for gender harassment and retaliation when he served as the director of the Division of Law Enforcement in Harris' Justice Department. The lawsuit came to light this week and resulted in Wallace's resignation from Harris' Sacramento office, where he worked as an adviser.

Harris claimed to have no knowledge of the lawsuit, which was filed in December 2016 and settled in May 2017 for $400,000 by Xavier Becerra, who replaced Harris as attorney general.

"I did not," she said. "Nope."

The Bee compared the matter to a 2010 scandal when she was San Francisco district attorney; a judge ruled at the time that Harris' office had failed in its constitutional duty to inform defendants about problems surrounding the analysis work of a police drug lab technician.

"Part of being an elected official is not only taking strong political positions and executing them fairly, it’s also being able to manage the people you entrust with responsibility. In this case, Harris has fallen short," the board wrote.

Noting her interest in running for president and position as a leading voice against harassment and for women's rights, the board wrote she should give a proper explanation of why she was left in the dark by her own staff.

Harris owes the voters more than just a four word denial on the steps of the U.S. Senate," it concluded. "She should fully explain her relationship with Wallace, and, by extension, her staff and why it insulated her from an issue upon which she has taken a leading national role."