Tuesday, December 3rd Update: ahahahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHA
I had assumed Kamala Harris was a run-of-the-mill democrat. Someone to spout vague progressive platitudes and condemn Donald Trump on Twitter with one hand, while pocketing lobbyist cash with the other. Harris would follow the path Clinton had tread in the previous election cycle: she would win the support of the party bigwigs, who would fawn over her every move and smear her detractors with hit piece after hit piece. And she would probably lose to Trump.
She is all of that, and yet worse.
Electoral politics, for a democrat, is game of sleight of hand. Contenders wear masks of progressivism, while privately courting donors whose demands are anything but progressive. The more convincing the mask, the more they can appease their donors without tarnishing their public image.
And that’s exactly Kamala Harris’s area of expertise. She’s risen from attorney to senator and presidential hopeful in just 16 years, and she’s been successful because no amount of corruption has broken her progressive mask.
Harris’s history is best described as “sociopathic”. Time and again, her constituents put their trust in her, only for her to stab them in the back without a second thought. Her supporters before the election become protesters, whom she refuses to acknowledge. And her public image remains largely untarnished.
But the mask is finally starting to crack.
Harris writes of striving to be a “progressive prosecutor,” but her vision is comprised of little more than gauzy invocations to wield the powers of her office “with a sense of fairness, perspective and experience,” to “hold serious criminals accountable,” to foster “safe communities” through crime prevention, and to run a “professional operation.” Harris frequently mentions her willingness to fight the good fight, to bring it on, but the battlefield she portrays is largely devoid of specific political interests, trade-offs and opponents (except for primordial sins such as racism, sexism, homophobia and, of course, the bogeyman of President Donald Trump).
When it comes to policy, Harris sits foursquare in the Washington consensus that congealed around the much-heralded First Step Act of December 2018. Instead of reining in the carceral state, that consensus involves trimming around its edges at best and bolstering its long-term viability at worst.
Harris’s fans often make the erroneous argument that she was legally obligated to do many of the things she did. To be clear: Harris was in no way obligated to support, oppose, or ignore any of the propositions, bills, rulings, or other measures in this article. Every black mark on her history mentioned in this article is the result of her own deliberate decisions.
2003 bid for District Attorney of San Francisco
In 2003, the San Francisco DA’s office was occupied by Terence Hallinan, a democrat widely considered the country’s “most progressive” prosecutor at the time. Hallinan was a strong proponent of rehabilitative justice (as opposed to incarceration). Since taking office, Hallinan successfully reduced violent crime in San Francisco by nearly 60%.
Hallinan had been a critical part of civil disobedience protests and served as counsel to such demonstrators (including “striking workers, student sit-ins, and anti-war demonstrators”). He considered drug addiction and sex work public health problems rather than criminal offenses, and fought for nonviolent offenders to receive social services rather than incarceration.
Naturally, Hallinan was widely disliked by the San Francisco PD. He cracked down on corruption among the police and city hall officials, which did not sit well with them, nor did it sit well with the right-wing Kamala Harris.
He also sought to clear charges brought against volunteers who had been cited for feeding homeless people, an illegal offense at the time. In his advocacy for a new approach to homelessness, Hallinan went so far as to hand out soup to homeless people alongside volunteers from Food Not Bombs — one of the criminalized groups — outside City Hall. After winning the election as the city’s top prosecutor, he dropped the charges against the volunteers. “This district attorney and this city intend to grapple in a different way with the homeless problem,” Hallinan said.”
“Harris sharply criticized Hallinan for failure to prosecute anti-war protesters for property destruction. “It is not progressive to be soft on crime,” Harris said.
Embraced by the Donor Class
Kamala Harris built a name for herself among the police by building a cop-friendly campaign against Hallinan. Harris promised to “repair” the relationship between the police and the DA’s office- a relationship that had been strained by Hallinan’s refusal to turn a blind eye to law enforcement corruption. She was unanimously endorsed by the police union.
Harris’s campaign also secured wealthy donors, including San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, whom Harris had a brief affair with in 1995. Brown was also under investigation for corruption by Hallinan.
Harris received, in total, $600,000 in “donations”, violating campaign finance law in the process and incurring the largest fine for such an offense in the city’s history. Her funding, high-profile supporters, and a media smear campaign against Hallinan was enough for her to unseat him, stopping the corruption investigations Hallinan had launched against the police department and city hall officials.
As District Attorney of San Francisco (2004–2011)
Rotten From the Start
Willie Brown states “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.”
But he did much more than “influence her career”:
Kamala accepted two appointments from Willie Brown to high-paying, part-time state boards — including one she had no training for — while being paid $100,000-year as a full-time county employee.
Brown was known to reward friends and allies. He gave Harris a brand-new BMW and also appointed her to two commissions in state government where, according to SF Weekly, she was paid $400,000 over five years. One of the positions, an appointment to the California Medical Assistance Commission, paid a $99,000 annual salary for attending two meetings a month.
Champion of Mass Incarceration
Harris prided herself on her record of incarceration. Her own website stated in 2008:
- Raised the overall felony conviction rate from 52% in 2003 to 67% in 2006, the highest in a decade.
- Raised the felony conviction rate at trial from 62% in 2003 to 80% in 2006.
- Sent 40% more serious and violent offenders to State Prison.
- Strengthened the Homicide Unit, reduced the backlog of homicide cases and, handling homicides aggressively, charged 87% of all homicide cases brought by police.
- Secured an 85% conviction rate for homicides.
- Increased convictions of drug dealers from 56% in 2003 to 74% in 2006.
In 2008, these statistics indicated a “tough on crime” stance. In 2019, with police corruption and the prison industrial complex in the limelight, they tell a much different story.
Harris was a strong proponent of California’s “three-strikes” law, which dictates mandatory life sentences for third-time offenders, even if the offenses are minor. Hallinan, who she unseated, and Steve Cooley, her republican opponent in the race for Attorney General, were both opponents of the law. Harris, of course, defeated both of them- and ensured the three-strikes law continued to this day. The law also disproportionately affects non-whites.
Covering for High-Profile Criminals
During her time as DA, Harris made a habit of protecting high-profile criminals to use as informants- and intentionally turning a blind eye to their every crime, up to and including murder.
Harris refused to prosecute police informant and career criminal Jorge Luis Sandoval for years. Sandoval was an integral part of a massive drug trafficking operation that dealt in cocaine and methamphetamine. He was repeatedly arrested for his drug crimes- but Harris’s DA office did not pursue charges for any of them because of his usefulness. Sandoval got off the hook every time, even though his crimes were severe enough to sentence him to life in prison. When Sandoval murdered 34-year-old Liri Lesku, the FBI stepped in and finally arrested him.
“These cases tell you that, at a minimum, SFPD has become very irresponsible,” says Keane. Rather than the informant being beholden to the police for allowing him to stay on the street in exchange for keeping them in the know, Keane says that when authorities turn a blind eye to serious crimes, it “gives the criminal a view of himself that he’s untouchable — and he is.”
Also protected by Harris was Abraham H. Guerra Sr., another career criminal and police informant involved in drug trafficking, with a comparably bad record. Guerra had escaped an attempted murder charge before by intimidating his victim. Only after his death in 2007 did the arrangement between him and Harris’s DA office/the SFPD come out.
Guerra’s criminal record was immediately suspect: “No matter what he did, he got away with it,” Safire says. The DA’s office rebuffed several discovery requests for such material. At one point, Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia objected to providing Guerra’s 700-page rap sheet.
This sort of behavior, Keane says, is gotten away with because victims like Liri Lesku are not high-profile, middle-class citizens. “It’s done to people who no one cares about,” he says. “That makes all the difference.”
Anti-Sex Work Efforts
Harris’s D.A. office worked with the police to run aggressive prostitution sting operations, in which female officers would pose as sex workers. Police were then capable of arresting anyone who spoke to the officer with “an intent to commit prostitution.” What “intent to commit prostitution” entailed was left entirely at the discretion of the officers involved- even speaking to the undercover officer was considered grounds for arrest. 60% of men arrested were Latino.
Harris was also a vocal opponent of decriminalizing sex work during her time as DA. She continued her crusade against sex work when she became Attorney General (see below).
Covering for Catholic Pedophiles
As District Attorney, Harris deliberately concealed information on pedophiles in the Catholic Church, protecting them from punishment. When victims pleaded with her to release the records, she still refused. Harris never prosecuted a single priest. Why she felt it necessary to defend pedophiles is left as an exercise for the reader.
In 2005, while she was San Francisco’s district attorney, Harris rebuffed a public-records request by SF Weekly to release personnel files from the Archdiocese of San Francisco. (Her predecessor had planned to make them public after prosecuting criminal priests, but the California Supreme Court stopped those cases when it declared unconstitutional a 2002 law that lifted the criminal statute of limitations.) Similar archives in Boston had exposed the scope of the scandal there. “We’re not interested in selling out our victims to look good in the paper,” Harris told SF Weekly in a statement — this, even though many of those victims pleaded with her to release the documents.
Covering for Corrupt Prosecutors
In 2010, crime lab technician Deborah Madden was found intentionally tampering with evidence produced by crime lab in which she worked (and skimming cocaine). With evidence from the lab compromised, prosecutors were forced to dismiss over 600 drug cases.
A leaked memo showed that Harris and her deputies had intentionally withheld this information from defense lawyers, a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo ruled in 2012 that Harris had violated the defendants’ rights. Harris argued that Massullo had a conflict of interest because her husband had “appeared on a panel” to discuss the importance of disclosing evidence. She lost.
The failure by Harris’ office “to produce information actually in its possession regarding Madden and the crime lab is a violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights,” Massullo wrote.
She said Harris’ office had the “duty to implement some type of procedure to secure and produce information relevant to Madden’s criminal history.” But Massullo said her repeated requests that prosecutors explain why they did not have such procedures were met with “a level of indifference.”
In the wake of the scandal, many of Harris’s veteran prosecutors retired. One of said prosecutors was Russ Giuntini, her Chief Attorney, first hire, and closest advisor. The information was only announced after Harris won the democratic nomination for Attorney General.
Also In 2010, Harris refused to turn over the records of 135 officers with histories of misconduct, many of whom gave testimonies that were used to obtain convictions- meaning said convictions could be overturned because of the officers’ dishonesty. Harris set up a “trial integrity unit”, allegedly to address concerns. She selected John Keker to serve as advisor for the trial integrity unit- a former police commissioner whose family donated $13,000 to Harris’s campaign for Attorney General. Concerns remained unaddressed.
“Why do they need a unit to determine how to conduct trials with integrity?” Adachi asked. “This is something that the district attorney was elected to do and should be doing every day.”
Keker’s having been a campaign donor, Adachi said, creates an obvious conflict of interest. “How can you expect an independent review from a campaign donor?” he said.
As Attorney General of California (2011–2016)
Covering for Killer & Rapist Cops
[Harris] completely sidetracked the main police accountability measure that has been vigorously pushed up and down the state by damn near every organization fighting for police reform: special prosecutors in cases of police shootings. Folks have been crystal clear that the day to day relationship local prosecutors have with police puts victims of police terrorism at a severe disadvantage. There’s an inherent conflict of interest.
In 2015, when Mario Woods (a black man) was shot 26 times and killed by police, Harris ignored demands to intervene from civil rights groups (including Black Lives Matter), instead claiming she “trusted” the District Attorney. Not a single officer in San Francisco has ever been criminally charged for shooting a citizen (as of 2018), a fact Harris certainly knew- declining to intervene meant that the officers would never be charged. Unsurprisingly, the DA found that the officers “feared for their lives”, and they went free.
Mario Woods was but one of many. In 2016, 157 people were killed by police in the state of California. In 2017, it was 162. In 2018, 115.
In 2013, Andy Lopez was shot “seven to 10 times” by an officer who “feared for his life”. Harris ignored demands to investigate. Lopez was 13.
In 2014, Ezell Ford was murdered by officers who “were in fear for their lives”. Again, Harris refused to investigate.
In 2012, Alan Blueford was shot and killed by an officer who “believed that his life was in danger”. Harris again refused to investigate. When over one hundred people gathered outside her office to protest her inaction, she had them arrested.
In 2016, when “dozens” of police officers had sex with teenager Celeste Gaup, committing statutory rape and engaging in human trafficking, Harris ignored the case.
“How many more people need to die before she steps in?” said Jones, who voted twice for Harris for attorney general and helped organize events for her first campaign for San Francisco district attorney. “We don’t even know that you (Harris) care. You have turned your back on the people who got you to where you are.”
But Harris never “turned her back” on her supporters- she had been lying from the very beginning.
Tatum then turned to the audience and somberly stated: “Kamala, I say this to you. I love you. We love you. Bayview Hunters Point, the Black community of San Francisco, helped get you to where you are today — and today, we need you.”
He then asked the capacity crowd to repeat loudly in unison: “Kamala Harris! We need you today!”
Harris did nothing.
For her inaction, Harris was rewarded by the support of four dozen law enforcement groups, allowing her to easily win re-election in 2014.
Harris lists the names of some of the most high-profile victims of police killings: Walter Scott in South Carolina, Philando Castile in Minnesota, Eric Garner in New York. But there are other names she does not add to this list, including Alan Blueford, Mario Woods, and Amilcar Perez-Lopez — all victims who were killed in the San Francisco Bay Area, and whose cases Harris could have directly addressed.
More Covering for Corrupt Police
As Attorney General, Harris remained first and foremost a friend to corrupt cops. She opposed legislation that would have required her office to investigate police shootings. Years later, when asked why, she dodged the question (see the U.S. Senator section). She also opposed mandated body cameras for police officers (by contrast, the Attorney General of New York had them installed).
As one might expect, Harris was one of the country’s most aggressive proponents of civil asset forfeiture. Harris had successfully opposed legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture in 2011. She went on to sponsor a bill to expand civil asset forfeiture in 2015.
[The reform bill] overwhelmingly passed the Assembly, before running into the opposition of every statewide law enforcement organization as well as California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Law enforcement argued that it would discourage cooperation on drug enforcement between federal and state and local police. The bill failed to make it out of the Senate.
In 2014 alone, police used civil asset forfeiture to steal over five billion dollars. For comparison, burglary losses in 2014 totaled approx. 3.5 billion.
Covering for Corrupt Prosecutors (Again)
Under Harris, there was an epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct in the state of California. She continued to shield corrupt prosecutors as Attorney General. For Harris, evidence of corruption was utterly irrelevant. One prosecutor admitted to outright falsifying a transcript of a defendant’s confession, lied under oath, and withheld crucial evidence- and Harris still rushed to his defense.
Undaunted by the criminal conduct of a state prosecutor, or the district court’s opinion, Ms. Harris appealed the decision dismissing the indictment. According to the California attorney general, only abject physical brutality would warrant a finding of prosecutorial misconduct and the dismissal of an indictment. Fortunately for all of us — and the Constitution — she lost again.
This is Ms. Harris’ third strike in hardly as many months — and those are only the ones that have come to our attention.
There is the outrageous misconduct by the state court agents and investigators in the Sierra Pacific/Moonlight Fire case that caused a state judge to enter a multi-million judgment against Cal Fire. And only a few weeks ago, Ninth Circuit Judges Kozinski, Fletcher and Wardlaw saw misconduct so egregious that Judge Kozinski raised the specter of a perjury prosecution of the prosecutor during the oral argument. Attorney General Harris had to reverse course on that case, but she did so only after the Ninth Circuit judges made clear that she would not like the opinion that would be forthcoming if she did not correct it herself. In that case, Baca, the state court of appeal saw evidence that the prosecutor himself had committed perjury. If Ms. Harris’ office had its way, it all would have been swept under the rug.
According to the LA Times: “A 2010 report by the Northern California Innocence Project cited 707 cases in which state courts found prosecutorial misconduct over 11 years. Only six of the prosecutors were disciplined, and the courts upheld 80% of the convictions in spite of the improprieties, the study found.”
(Harris was also involved in the complicated Scott Dekraai jailhouse snitch incident, which, in the interest of brevity, I won’t delve into in this article)
Champion of Mass Incarceration (Again)
Perhaps even more damning are her policies of mass incarceration. It’s difficult to communicate the sheer, horrifying scale of the prison industrial complex- hundreds of thousands of people incarcerated is a difficult statistic for a person to wrap their mind around. The United States leads the world in mass incarceration by an enormous margin, and California- the state Kamala Harris was Attorney General of for five years- leads the United States states in mass incarceration. From 1980 to 2013, federal prison population rose 790 percent.
As the state attorney general for five years, she sits atop a giant law-enforcement apparatus, with a staff of almost 5,000 in a state with the country’s second-largest nonfederal prison system, with about 135,000 inmates and a death-row population of almost 750.
Jacobin writes: “In 2012 and 2014, California voters passed two ballot initiatives that gave judges more discretion in sentencing and retroactively scaled back punishment for certain low-level crimes. Harris didn’t take a public position on either, claiming that taking a side would come into conflict with her duty to write the ballot text. A fellow Democrat who had preceded her as attorney general called the excuse “baloney.””
Harris was a proponent of cash bail systems. In the words of her own spokeswoman, “Cash-bail systems have a disparate impact on the poor — often times forcing people to choose between paying bail and going further into debt, or sitting in jail for days at the risk of losing their family, housing, or employment.” Yet Harris defended cash bail until June 2016, arguing it was constitutional. Later that year, she flipped on the issue because of public pressure.
The cash-bail system “does not make classifications based on wealth, but instead on the seriousness of criminal offenses,” the lawyers said. Although low-income defendants may suffer as a result, Harris’ office said, court rulings have established that “the state is not constitutionally required to remove obstacles not of its own making.”
Why does Harris fight to keep so many people locked up? The answer is cheap labor (also known as prison slavery), according to her A.G. office. The state of California saves millions by using prisoners to fight wildfires.
In 2011 (while Harris was A.G.), the supreme court ruled that Californian prisons were “so overcrowded that they violated the Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment” (Brown v. Plata). She fought against its implementation by repeatedly returning the case to the lower courts. She eventually failed, and in 2014, the state was ordered to make all non-violent, second time offenders who have served half of their sentence eligible for parole.
According to court filings, lawyers for the state said California met benchmarks, and argued that if certain potential parolees were given a faster track out of prison, it would negatively affect the prison’s labor programs, including one that allowed certain inmates to fight California’s wildfires for about $2 a day.
“Extending 2-for-1 credits to all minimum custody inmates at this time would severely impact fire camp participation — a dangerous outcome while California is in the middle of a difficult fire season and severe drought,” lawyers for Harris wrote in the filing, noting that the fire camp program required physical fitness in addition to a level of clearance that allowed the felon to be offsite.
Not only that, they noted, draining the prisons of “minimum custody inmates” would deplete the labor force both internally and in local communities where low-level, non-violent offenders worked for pennies on the dollar collecting trash and tending to city parks. A federal three-judge panel ordered both sides to confer about the plaintiffs’ demands, and the state agreed to extend the 2-for-1 credits to all eligible minimum security prisoners.
But still, Harris’s office fought against the ruling by “slow-walking” the process- in other words, deliberately going through the process as inefficiently as was possible, while their lawyers fought against the ruling.
“As far as I know, she did very little if anything to improve the criminal justice system when she was attorney general,” Specter said.
“The way I look at it is, she was really late to the party and more importantly when she had the authority to do something as attorney general she was absent,” he said. “I’m very skeptical of her views of criminal justice at this point, she basically carried on the policies of her predecessor for the most part in battling us on getting the prison population down and anything else that the government wanted to do to prevent prison conditions from improving.”
Also in 2011, Harris championed anti-truancy legislation which was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. Under these laws, the parents of any child who is chronically absent (meaning they “miss more than 10 percent of school days without a valid excuse”) can face one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. As all such legislation does, the laws disproportionately targeted low-income people of color, and still do to this day. As of 2017, over one in ten Californian students is chronically absent, most of whom are poor and/or non-white.
A Record of Incarcerating Innocents
Harris, of course, wasn’t sated with merely locking up minor, non-violent offenders. She also has a record of fighting to keep the wrongfully imprisoned in prison- understanding that such offenders are likely innocent, and arguing that they should stay imprisoned for the rest of their lives based on nothing more than technicalities.
In 2015, evidence emerged that prisoner George Gage had been wrongfully convicted by a corrupt prosecutor who deliberately held back critical evidence. Harris and her prosecutors fought tooth and nail to uphold his conviction on a technicality, and succeeded. Gage is still in prison to this day, serving a 70-year sentence. The prosecutor who convicted him, meanwhile, was elected to the Los Angeles County Superior Court a mere five days after the conviction.
[Ms. Harris’s prosecutors] pointed out that Mr. Gage, while forced to act as his own lawyer, had not properly raised the legal issue in the lower court, as the law required.
The appellate judges acknowledged this impediment and sent the case to mediation, a clear signal for Ms. Harris to dismiss the case. When she refused to budge, the court upheld the conviction on that technicality. Mr. Gage is still in prison serving a 70-year sentence.
In a similar case, Harris fought to keep the wrongly convicted prisoner Daniel Larsen in prison. Larsen had been of Possession of a Concealed Weapon in 1999. After serving 11 years of his 28-year-to-life sentence in prison, a judge reviewed the case and reversed Larsen’s conviction.
Harris appealed the judge’s decision again on a technicality- she argued Larsen had “failed to raise his legal arguments in a timely fashion”. Because of this, Larsen remained in prison another two years.
In 2012, no less than 90,000 people petitioned Harris to set Larsen free. Civil rights groups also called on her. She still refused. Even after Larsen was released by a federal court, Harris fought to send him back to prison.
[Kamala Harris]’s main argument was that even if Danny was innocent, his conviction should not be reversed because he waited too long to file his petition. In other words, an innocent man should spend his life in prison due to a legal technicality.
In 2013, Harris fought to keep Lonny Leon Rivera on the sex offender registry. His crime? Having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend (now wife) while he himself was only 19- in 1989.
In 2015, Harris fought against the wrongfully imprisoned Johnny Baca, after it was found that corrupt prosecutors destroyed evidence that would have proved his innocence. She relented when faced with immense public pressure.
Again in 2015, Harris fought against DNA testing for Kevin Cooper, a black man on death row who was likely wrongfully convicted by corrupt police (astute readers might notice a pattern!). Again she relented in the face of public pressure.
[Kamala Harris] adds, “I know this history well — of innocent men framed, of charges brought against people without sufficient evidence, of prosecutors hiding information that would exonerate defendants, of the disproportionate application of the law.”
All too often, she was on the wrong side of that history.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
On the subject of the death penalty, Harris overturned Judge Cormac J. Carney’s decision to abolish capital punishment in California in 2014, despite claiming to oppose it. She wrote that Carney’s decision “undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants,” a statement that, notably, makes no sense whatsoever- and Harris never had to elaborate. As of February 2019, 740 inmates in California remain on death row because of her decision.
Harris was staunchly in favor of solitary confinement. When Californian inmates filed a suit (Ashker vs Brown) over the state’s use of solitary confinement, Harris attempted to have it dismissed, going as far as to claim that “there is no ‘solitary confinement’ in California prisons” (another demonstrable lie). In protest of prison isolation, over 7,000 California inmates participated in a hunger strike.
Harris did not care.
As of 2014, as many as 80,000 people were in solitary confinement in the United States. Solitary confinement is widely considered a form of torture, and Ashker vs Brown was filed on behalf of prisoners who had been in solitary confinement for more than a decade.
A Career Drug Warrior
Harris was also opposed to marijuana legalization- most likely because she was able to lock up more than 1,560 people for marijuana-related offenses as attorney general. She continued to oppose legalization when even her 2014 republican opponent supported it. When asked if she supported legalization, Harris laughed. Later in 2019, Harris claimed she had used marijuana in her college years- indicating she had either ruined thousands of lives for an offense she herself committed, or she was simply lying.
Best Friend to the Banks
Harris was called upon to negotiate a settlement in 2011, regarding mortgage relief by people who accrued massive debt from corrupt foreclosure practices by the banks- which put many at risk of losing their homes. Harris only budged when faced with immense public pressure.
The deal she made was expertly designed to look good to the public, but in actuality was completely in favor of the banks, who “got off the hook for pennies a dollar”. The banks had caused $650 billion in damage, but Harris negotiated for only $18 billion, a majority of which didn’t even go to homeowners affected. Not only that, but Harris refused to prosecute even a single banker.
As for the 200,000 Californians who had been foreclosed on at the time of the settlement, they were entitled to $1,400 cash payments under the terms of the National Mortgage Settlement, as compensation for having their homes and life savings stolen by financial criminals.”
“Michael Hiltzik, a business columnist for The Los Angeles Times, called the overall settlement “a parade of rosy self-congratulation,” adding, “I believe the technical term for all this is ‘big whoop.””
“As we’ve said before, this settlement is yet another raw demonstration of who wields power in America, and it isn’t you and me. It’s bad enough to see these negotiations come to their predictable, sorry outcome. It adds insult to injury to see some try to depict it as a win for long suffering, still abused homeowners.
A year later, most homeowners affected by the banks’ corruption had received little to no mortgage relief. For many years, furious foreclosure victims demanded to speak with Harris, who denied all of their requests, refused to send any member of her staff to talk, ignored all letters written to her, and ensured victims were denied entry to her office building. In 2015, victims occupied a stump speech of hers, yet she still refused to speak to them.
A cardboard sign at the convention summarized the situation: “$650 Billion Stolen; Only 18 Billion ‘Repaid.’ Who Says Crime Doesn’t Pay? Bankers Have It Made!”
“People are losing their homes! People are still losing their home, Kamala!” the protestor chided, before asking, “What happened to the money? What happened to the money, Kamala?”
One more conventioneer appeared from the audience to authoritatively request, “Can you let her speak?”
“No!” came the reply. Another voice joined in, “We want our homes! We lost our homes!”
“They took our homes! We’re losing our homes!”
“She does not care about the people! She’s not here for the people! Kamala Harris sold out: Eighteen billion dollars is not justice!”
“You don’t want to talk to homeowners!”
“Kamala Harris sold out! Mortgage settlements are not justice!”
Unable to gain any momentum in her speech, Kamala Harris concluded in two minutes. Members of Occupy Fights Foreclosures were thrilled to have finally expressed their grievances within hearing range of their elected official.
As Harris was escorted from the fenced-in Grand Plaza stage back to the safety of the Anaheim Convention Center, a clear and steady voice from the crowd observed, “Kamala Harris, people are still losing their homes.”
“People are still losing their homes, Kamala Harris. What are you doing to do about that?” he inquired. “Are you going to prosecute Wells Fargo?”
“The foreclosure crisis is going on!” interjected a female voice.
“It’s not over! There are 10,000 people right now in California losing their homes.”
“Mortgage settlements are not justice!” declared the woman, as an LA County Young Democrat in a navy blue suit held two campaign signs to block the crowd’s view of candidate Harris.
“Don’t fail the people like you have been doing!” came the final plea, as Senate candidate Kamala Harris walked away from her constituents.
Best Friend to the Banks, Part 2
In 2017, The Intercept obtained a memo from the A.G.’s Consumer Law Section regarding Steven Mnuchin, CEO of OneWest bank. The memo identified “over a thousand legal violations in the small subsection of OneWest loans they were able to examine”. Yet Harris steadfastly refused to prosecute, and never gave a reason why- but the reason revealed itself shortly thereafter, when Harris received a $2,000 “campaign donation” from Mnuchin.
The memo was the result of a year-long investigation and it asserts that OneWest Bank operated to intentionally boost foreclosures. The Campaign for Accountability called for a federal investigation of Mnuchin and OneWest Bank claiming they used “potentially illegal tactics to foreclose on as many as 80,000 California homes.”
Yet despite internal memos explicitly mentioning numerous prosecutable offenses by Mnuchin and co., then California Attorney General Kamala Harris refused to prosecute.
She’s never given an explanation for her decision and Mnuchin later donated $2,000.00 to Harris’ campaign. It was his only donation to a democratic candidate.
Steven Mnuchin evaded justice unscathed. He is now Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury. Harris still prides herself on being “tough on the banks”.
Anti-Sex Work Efforts (Again)
Harris also fought against decriminalization of sex work in California. She instituted a program to make truckers and hotel workers report suspected sex workers. She “spearheaded raids on immigrant-owned massage parlors in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, an effort that failed to uncover the imagined “modern slavery” rings but did bring many undocumented workers into contact with people who can deport them.”
All of these anti-sex-work policies were done under the guise of “protecting marginalized women” and “fighting sex trafficking”. None of them accomplished either of those things. The Guardian writes “Under the guise of “anti-trafficking” efforts, police practices in northern California and a new federal law have broadly affected adult sex workers both online and in the streets.
The result, activists say, is a risk of increased violence and suffering for the very women whom lawmakers say they are rescuing.”
And Other Horrible Things
In 2015, Harris fought against sex reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate- even though California has included gender reassignment surgery in state health plans since 2001.
Bafflingly, in 2015, one of her aides was charged with running a fake police force.
In 2016, Harris’s aide and “one of her closest confidantes” Larry Wallace was implicated in a sexual harassment scandal. The lawsuit was settled in May 2017, but Wallace continued to work for Harris until the incident resurfaced in December 2018. He promptly retired. When asked (in December) if she knew of the case, Harris replied “I did not. Nope.”
[Harris] did not answer whether she believes [the victim] but said she has “not talked to her directly.”
As U.S. Senator (2016-present)
Favored by the Establishment
Even early on, the 2020 election cycle is reminiscent of 2016. The very same donor class that anointed Hillary Clinton queen of the Democrats now backs Harris, and the same media apparatus is now churning out articles fawning over her (and hitpieces on Sanders, again). Harris has already built a team of former Clinton staffers.
Approx. 65% of Harris’s campaign contributions are from corporate interests. While in any reasonable system this would be grounds for life imprisonment, it’s unfortunately the norm in America. Like others, she’s sworn off corporate PACs- but most corporate cash comes from wealthy executive donors rather than the companies themselves, making the gesture almost entirely symbolic.
Support of AIPAC
In 2018, Harris gave an off-the-record address to AIPAC. A quote: “Let me be clear about what I believe. I stand with Israel because of our shared values which are so fundamental to the founding of both our nations. I believe the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, and we can never let anyone drive a wedge between us. And I believe Israel should never be a partisan issue, and as long as I’m a United States senator, I will do everything in my power to ensure broad and bipartisan support for Israel’s security and right to self-defense.”
“Unlike some of her counterparts in the Senate, [Kamala Harris] has not publicly made any demands of Israel or Netanyahu regarding the human rights of Palestinians.”
Even More Horrible Things
At a CNN town hall event in 2019, host Jake Tapper asked Harris why she has opposed the bill requiring her office to investigate police shootings. In response, she said she never took a position on any bill or ballot initiative because of her duties as attorney general, a statement that was demonstrably a lie. Harris later claimed she “misheard the question” and misspoke in response. She never gave a corrected response to Tapper’s question.
Also in 2018, Harris tweeted a fundraiser for Stacey Abrams, neglecting to mention that half the proceeds went to Harris herself. Abrams had her own fundraiser on ActBlue which, notably, did not give half of its proceeds to Kamala Harris.
Harris continued to spearhead a crusade against sex workers after her election to the Senate. Harris was a strong proponent of the highly controversial FOSTA-SESTA, which President Trump signed into law in 2018.
In the thread, Simons castigated Harris for a record of “rampant anti-Blackness” which included “strengthening the prison industrial complex.” When I asked Simons what Harris would need to do to earn his trust, he said directly, “If I trusted Harris, I would be a fool. Only a fool would trust someone who has proven to be an enemy time and time again.”
Don’t vote for Kamala Harris.
Additional reasons to never vote for Kamala Harris, from after I published this article:
- Kamala Harris Was Not a ‘Progressive Prosecutor’
- The Two Faces of Kamala Harris
- Kamala Harris: can a ‘top cop’ win over progressives in 2020?
- Kamala Harris’ Disturbing Brand of Criminal Justice Reform
- Kamala Harris Schmoozes Mega-Donors While “Rejecting” Corporate Funding
- A Problem for Kamala Harris: Can a Prosecutor Become President in the Age of Black Lives Matter?
- In Her First Race, Kamala Harris Campaigned as Tough on Crime — and Unseated the Country’s Most Progressive Prosecutor
- Kamala Harris was a tough-on-crime prosecutor in a Black Lives Matter era
- Twitter Thread by @CrookedCopmala