( A missing link to the “Truth or Fiction” site has been added.)
Enter this one under “Tales of Media Double Standards For Hypocritical Democratic Presidential Contenders Aren’t Elizabeth Warren.”
The mainstream news media has anointed Kamala Harris as one of its favorite Democrats, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see much objective or accurate analysis about her unethical relationship with Willie Brown while he was Mayor of San Francisco. (Harris also appears to be on the road to dinging herself irrespective of this problem.) Watch a progressive “factcheck” site try to spin the Brown connection:try to spin the Brown connection:
Accusations that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) had an affair with a married man have hovered around her since the 2000s, back when Harris first made a run for public office.
These rumors stem from a relationship Harris had with former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, but what it had to do with the beginning of her political career has been largely misrepresented.
Kamala Harris was elected to serve as the district attorney of San Francisco in 2003. In 2010, she was elected to serve as California’s state attorney general. Harris held that role office until she was elected to the United States Senate in November 2016.
Throughout her career, rumors that Harris had an affair with a married man (Willie Brown) and used it to launch her political career, have followed. We’ll take a look at the facts and provide a brief overview of the situation.
The Kamala Harris-Willie Brown connection
Kamala Harris and Willie Brown had a relationship in the mid 1990s. At the time, Harris was working as an attorney in various city offices. Brown, who is nearly 30 years older than Harris, had been elected mayor after serving in the state legislature for more than 30 years.
Willie Brown has led an eccentric, outspoken life, and his exploits with women have been well-documented. In 2001, news broke that Brown had impregnated his top fundraiser, for example. However, the claim that Kamala Harris had “an affair” with Brown, implying not only that they had a relationship but that it was furtive and seedy, doesn’t check out.
It’s true that Brown has technically been married since 1958. However, Brown and his wife separated amicably in 1982 — more than 10 years before his relationship with Harris began — according to a 1984 New York Times profile of Brown.
So again, claims that Kamala Harris had an affair with a married man just don’t check out.
Did Kamala Harris use her relationship with Brown to launch her political career?
Kamala Harris and Willie Brown made no effort to hide their relationship in the early 1990s. When Harris first ran for public office in 2003, long after the relationship ended, her previous relationship with Brown didn’t help her chances — it actually hurt them.
Harris’ opponents, incumbent District Attorney Terence Hallinan and local attorney Bill Fazio, turned her previous relationship with Brown into a campaign issue, arguing that Harris could not be trusted to hold Brown accountable as DA because they had been previously involved.
…Brown himself leapt into the fray in late January 2019 with a brief commentary in the San Francisco Chronicle just after Harris announced that she would be running for president, appearing to take credit for helping start her career:
“Yes, we dated. It was more than 20 years ago. Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to two state commissions when I was Assembly speaker. And I certainly helped with her first race for district attorney in San Francisco. I have also helped the careers of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and a host of other politicians. The difference is that Harris is the only one who, after I helped her, sent word that I would be indicted if I “so much as jaywalked” while she was D.A. That’s politics for ya.”
Is this a masterpiece of obfuscation and spin, or what? Wow. Let’s look at a few details:
1. Kamala Harris had an ongoing intimate relationship with the Mayor of San Francisco while he was married to someone else. Not “technically married,” married. Harris is a lawyer: she knows this. Thus she had an affair with a married man. The fact that he was separated from his wife, or that Brown may have been open about it, doesn’t make claims that she had an affair a “slur.” Using “a relationship” is deliberate deceit. They had an affair, a sexual affair. It isn’t a “rumor.” It’s a fact.
2. The affair was a vertical sexual relationship between Harris and her supervisor. That is unethical. A vertical sexual relationship is what President Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky. Ina government office, that creates, at very least, third party sexual harassment, by sending the message to all female employees that they are expected to accede to overtures for social relationships, because that’s the conduct the mayor was modelling.
This is problematical in the #MeToo Democratic party, indeed wildly hypocritical. This was exactly the kind of “relationship” Harvey Weinstein forced on women subordinate to him. However, Harris has never acknowledged the inconsistency between her #MeToo lip-service and posturing and her relationship with Brown.
3. Was this a quid pro quo affair, Brown getting a younger woman under his control for sex and Harris getting professional concessions? It sure sound like it: Brown says he appointed her to two commissions. Was the subsequent affair part of the deal? At very least, this has the appearance of impropriety, a supposed taboo for government officials—and again sent the message, a message that Willie Brown was just the man to benefit from, that you could take a fast track to success if you slept with him, and really, he wasn’t so bad. Again, here Harris aided and abetted Brown’s use of his extended staff as his own Harem. Whether she knew it or not, she should have known it, as a lawyer and an alleged feminist.
4. What women (or men) didn’t get the appointments Harris got because of her special relationship to the Mayor? How is what happened to them any more just or ethical than those who Elizabeth Warren jumped over or past on her up academia’s ladder by playing a counterfeit Minority Card?
5. “When Harris first ran for public office in 2003, long after the relationship ended, her previous relationship with Brown didn’t help her chances — it actually hurt them.” Yes, and it should hurt them again, now. The “Truth or Fiction” factcheck is shamelessly shifting the goalposts to confuse readers. The issue is whether Harris received special benefits and career advancement opportunities from the Mayor while sleeping with him. The answer is yes, she did. The fact that they were open about the relationship is irrelevant (except that it would have been better for the culture under Brown if they had kept the relationship secret), and the fact that the relationship was criticized later, after she had split with Brown and was running for District Attorney, is moral luck.
6. The statement by Harris during that campaign, cited by the factchecker as exculpatory, is far from it:
“I refuse… to design my campaign around criticizing Willie Brown for the sake of appearing to be independent when I have no doubt that I am independent of him — and that he would probably right now express some fright about the fact that he cannot control me. His career is over; I will be alive and kicking for the next 40 years. I do not owe him a thing.”
Wait: now he doesn’t control you? Doesn’t this sound like she’s ready to use what she learned while in Brown’s confidence against him? Since he did, in fact, help her career—completely altruistically I’m sure, isn’t this a remarkably vicious, mean, ungrateful statement to a man whom she supposedly cared about?
7. Brown’s statement also reflects ominously on Harris. What a sleaze he is. His justification for their relationship, whatever you call it, is exactly like Harvey Weeinstein’s defense: “This is [politics/show business]. Everybody does it.”
The Harris-Brown saga tells us a lot about both Harris and Brown, none of it good.
But Willie Brown isn’t running for President.