After the way Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) immediately believed Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford’s accusations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh and praised her “courage” in speaking out, one would think that Harris would never stand for one of her own employees being sexually harassed in the workplace then retaliated against after making a complaint, and that she would be solidly in the woman’s corner from the moment she was informed.
Ehh, not quite. As Elizabeth Vaughn covered in December 2018, Larry Williams, whom Harris appointed as Director of Law Enforcement at the California Department of Justice (CADOJ) during her time as Attorney General, was sued (along with CADOJ) by his former executive assistant for sexual harassment. Five months after the suit was filed in December 2016, CADOJ settled with Danielle Hartley for $400,000.
Harris’ response has been lukewarm at best and filled with generic talking points about “fighting for women.” As of today, two months after Harris supposedly first learned of the lawsuit and settlement, Harris hasn’t even reached out to Hartley.
She was asked about the issue on Univision on Sunday morning and, unlike the fawning reporters covering Harris in English-speaking mainstream media, she was actually asked follow-up questions and put on the spot.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 3, 2019
When asked about the case in general, Harris repeated essentially what she told the Sacramento Bee in December 2018.
“I did not know about that case, but I will tell you that it makes the point that no office is immune. I have been a fighter for women’s rights and — for my entire career. I have fought for women who have been abused. I have fought for women who have been harassed…”
Then she stammers for a few moments and wraps the answer up with a talking point.
“…And I will always be a fighter for women’s rights.”
Did you reach to the alleged victim in this specific case to offer your support?
“I have indicated that I’m very supportive of all women who come forward and speak up and have the courage to speak up.”
That was a nice dodge, but didn’t answer the question about this specific case. So, the reporter asks again.
“In this specific case, I have not talked to the victim.”
Excuse me? Why not?
“That case is being handled by the Attorney General’s office, and I have left it up to that office to handle the case as they have seen fit, which included a settlement.”
The case is “being handled”? No, the case has been settled for nearly two years. There is absolutely nothing at this point preventing Harris from reaching out to the victim and offer assistance in obtaining counseling, in finding another job, or just to lend moral support. Due to the terms of the settlement, Hartley is out of a job and can never again apply for a position with the CADOJ. Most likely, she has been blackballed within state government as well.
So, no, Senator, that is not the reason you haven’t reached out to Danielle Hartley. You haven’t reached out because you wanted to protect your friend and former driver, a perverted man who has been with you since your days as San Francisco District Attorney.
Supposedly, Hartley hasn’t contacted Harris either, and a review of the timeline of events in Hartley’s case makes it clear that female staffers in Harris’ CADOJ didn’t feel that she would be a “fighter” for them. When Hartley went to her immediate supervisor with a complaint about Williams, she was the one who ended up being investigated. She was then involuntarily transferred to another department and repeatedly passed over for promotions. Contrast that treatment with what Harris said to Dr. Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings.
“You are not on trial. You are not on trial….You are sitting here…because you had the courage to come forward.
“You have bravely come forward. You have bravely come forward. And I want to thank you because you clearly have nothing to gain for what you have done.”
Though it’s true that Hartley didn’t work in Harris’ immediate vicinity, as the executive assistant of one of Harris’ top confidantes she would have had access to Harris and, if she felt that she would be supported in complaining about Williams’ piggish behavior, she would have approached her.
It’s also true that the case and settlement were handled by Harris’ successor as Attorney General of California, Xavier Becerra. Harris’ contention that no one ever told her about the case or the settlement until the Bee was about to break the story (which led to a concurrent resignation by Williams) is incredible – meaning, not credible – in any way, shape, or form.
In addition, the fact that Hartley waited until the day before Harris’ term as Attorney General expired to file the suit speaks volumes.
By her actions, Harris has shown that she doesn’t care about protecting women if it’s going to hurt one of her friends or if it’s politically unpopular. If Hartley had approached Harris, there’s a decent possibility, based on Harris’ own past, that Harris would have advised Hartley to suck it up and do what she needed to do to get ahead. After all, that’s what got Kamala where she is.