The next to last barrier between Senator Kamala Harris and a top aide's sexual misconduct just fell. Not only did the alleged sexual harassment happen on her watch, but so did the claim.
A longtime top staff member of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris resigned Wednesday after The Sacramento Bee inquired about a $400,000 harassment and retaliation settlement resulting from his time working for Harris at the California Department of Justice.
Larry Wallace, who served as the director of the Division of Law Enforcement under then-Attorney General Harris, was accused by his former executive assistant in December 2016 of “gender harassment” and other demeaning behavior, including frequently asking her to crawl under his desk to change the paper in his printer.
The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 30, 2016, when Harris was still attorney general but preparing to be sworn in as California’s newly elected Democratic senator. It was settled less than five months later, in May 2017, by Xavier Becerra, who was appointed to replace her as attorney general.
By that time, Wallace had transitioned to work for Harris as a senior advisor in her Sacramento office.
Now the latest Sacramento Bee story nails down more of the timeline.
A misconduct claim naming one of Kamala Harris’ top deputies arrived at the California Department of Justice three months before Harris left the attorney general’s office in early 2017.
The Democratic senator has said she had no knowledge of the discrimination and retaliation complaint involving Larry Wallace, a longtime aide and one of her closest professional confidantes, before The Bee inquired about it last week. A lawsuit by Wallace’s former executive assistant against the department, which ultimately settled for $400,000, was filed just days before Harris was sworn into the U.S. Senate.
But an intake form from the Equal Employment Rights and Resolution Office, which oversees discrimination investigations and compliance at the Department of Justice, shows that the department was first notified on Oct. 3, 2016, of Danielle Hartley’s intent to pursue legal action.
The lawsuit was rapidly settled with a DNR right before Harris was sworn in. That suggests the goal was damage control on her behalf. And we're supposed to believe that she was so incompetent that she had no idea what was happening in her own office.
Harris, who is currently weighing a run for president in 2020, told The Bee last Friday that she took “full responsibility for what happened in my office.” She said she was “frustrated” that she hadn’t been briefed on the complaint against Wallace, which she considered a “breakdown” in the system.
Full responsibility, as usual, means zero consequences.