Notice of harassment claim against Kamala Harris' confidante arrived months before she left office

Last week Ed wrote about Larry Wallace, one of Sen. Kamala Harris’ top aides who resigned suddenly after it came to light he had been involved in a workplace harassment lawsuit brought by Danielle Hartley. Wallace was Hartley’s supervisor during the time he worked for Harris at the California Department of Justice, i.e. when she was Attorney General. But as Ed noted last week, Sen. Harris has claimed she knew nothing about the lawsuit Hartley filed on Dec. 30, 2016 or the $400,000 settlement which was reached several months later by the person who succeeded Harris as California AG, Xavier Becerra. This story was already hard to swallow but today the Sacramento Bee reports that the Department of Justice had been notified of Hartley’s intent to sue three months before the lawsuit was filed.

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…

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 department’s EER&R form briefly describes Hartley’s allegations that she “experienced discrimination, harassment, retaliation, demotion,” among other violations of federal equal employment law, and names Wallace as her division chief…

The Department of Justice declined to comment on what happened with the EER&R complaint regarding Hartley’s right to sue, who was notified about it and whether an internal investigation was launched.

So let’s sum up the current story being told by Sen. Harris. The California Department of Justice was notified that one of the supervisors who worked with then-AG Harris was about to be sued for harassment, but no one mentioned it to her or anyone around her. Then, when the actual lawsuit was filed at the end of December, no one thought that was worth mentioning to Harris either. A couple months later, Harris hired Wallace to come to Washington, D.C. and work for her, but he never mentioned the still-unresolved lawsuit to her. Then, a few months after that in May 2017, California AG Xavier Becerra settled the lawsuit and had Hartley sign an NDA which prevented her from talking about the outcome. And once again, none of Sen. Harris old buddies in her old office thought to mention to her that the guy she’d just hired was involved in a large harassment settlement.

To say all of this strains credulity is to put it very mildly. In the real world, gossip happens. A harassment lawsuit would be a major topic of conversation in any office, especially if it involved someone close to the big boss. I guess it’s possible Wallace himself would avoid telling Harris about it, though you would think if she wanted to bring him along to DC they must have had some real relationship beyond work. Did he really not care about becoming a time-bomb for Harris in her new career? But even if Wallace lied, surely Harris had other friends in the office who would have alerted her to the potential problem.

Harris ought to be asked a lot of specific questions about this story to further clarify how she managed to remain so clueless for so long.

Update: GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel says no one is buying this story.