Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris is generally considered a frontrunner for her party’s presidential nomination in 2020, but her campaign toward that goal has had a somewhat rocky start.
Her path to the nomination just became a bit rougher, too, with the recent disclosure that the California Department of Justice — which Harris ran as state attorney general prior to being elected senator — paid out more than a million dollars in settlements for sexual harassment, misconduct and workplace retaliation that allegedly occurred while she was in charge.
Sexual harassment and workplace retaliation
The New York Post reported that the information was disclosed this past week via a Public Records Act request filed with the state by the Los Angeles Times.
The several instances of alleged sexual harassment and misconduct, not to mention alleged workplace retaliation against those who complained, occurred between 2011 and 2017.
Those allegations range from mere comments to inappropriate touching, among other things, as well as reported punishment and retaliation against some of those who came forward and spoke out against such behavior.
Massive settlements by the department
While more than $1 million was reportedly paid out in various settlements — in which the department denied the underlying allegations which resulted in the settlements — the largest by far was a payout of $649,500 in 2013 to a California DOJ special agent named James Rodriguez.
Rodriguez claimed to have reported sexual harassment against him to his superiors, only to find that as the result of his claims, he was passed over for job promotions and faced other forms of retaliation.
Another large payout, this one in the sum of $400,000, was given to an unnamed woman who alleged that an administrator under Harris — Larry Wallace — had sexually harassed her and demeaned her based solely upon her gender. She put forward as an example of Wallace’s behavior the claim that he would often order her to crawl under his desk to fix or change the paper in his printer.
In response to the disclosure of the settlements, Harris denied through a spokesman having ever heard of the complaints of harassment or retribution that took place while she was in charge — they were ostensibly handled by mid-level administrators beneath her — though she seemingly took responsibility for what had happened in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times.
In the statement, Harris said, “As the chief executive of a department of nearly 5,000 employees, the buck stopped with me. No one should face harassment or intimidation in the workplace, and victims of sexual misconduct should be listened to, believed and protected.” She added that “no office is immune to misconduct, and there is much more work to do to ensure all are protected.”
Considering the fact that Harris is a big supporter of the #MeToo movement, the disclosure of sexual harassment and misconduct in her department while she was attorney general would seemingly do damage to her credibility with its proponents.
Of course, given the hypocritical double standards of the left, it remains to be seen if the Democrat base will hold her responsible for these revelations or allow her to sidestep accountability for what occurred under her watch.