Kamala Harris’ new book may have gone to the printer just a bit too soon.
The U.S. senator’s biography, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” which was released Tuesday, is the latest sign that the California Democrat is seriously considering the 2020 presidential run.
But the book also puts Harris in an awkward spot because it praises the “leadership” her now-disgraced former aide, Larry Wallace, who resigned in December over a $400,000 sexual harassment settlement.
The settlement stemmed from the alleged harassment of Danielle Hartley, who had been Wallace’s executive assistant during his time at the California Department of Justice — which was then led by Harris, who was then California’s attorney general.
The senator’s book features a passage in which she praises Wallace, former director of the Division of Law Enforcement in California, for his “leadership” in coming up with an “implicit bias and procedural justice training program.”
The passage was reported by the Washington Free Beacon. The outlet also noted that the book contains a photo of Harris together with Wallace.
Harris’ book has also been deemed a campaign book rather than an actual attempt at writing a comprehensive biography book. “So is it a great book? No. No, it is not,” NPR’s review of the book read, pointing out that the book contains “some careful elision of facts” and “plenty of platitudes.”
According Hartley’s lawsuit, first reported by the Sacramento Bee, Wallace instructed Hartley to run his personal errands — such as booking flights for his children, and getting his car washed and otherwise maintained. When she would return from the assigned tasks, the lawsuit states, “co-workers would make hostile comments to her, including, ‘Are you walking the walk of shame?’”
Hartley claims she tried to solve the matter internally, reporting the harassment allegations in 2011, but this only prompted retaliation against her. She was involuntarily transferred to another office at the state Department of Justice at the end of 2014, the suit said.
The lawsuit was settled for $400,000 in May 2017, just two months after Wallace went to work for now- Sen. Harris as her senior adviser.
Harris insisted that she was “unaware” of the allegations against Wallace during her time as state attorney general, even though her department was informed of the woman’s lawsuit three months before she left the position, the Bee reported.
She told the newspaper that she took “full responsibility for what happened in my office” and blamed a “breakdown” in the system for making her unaware of the allegations.
“That’s what makes me upset about this,” she said, “There’s no question I should have been informed about this. There’s no question. And there were ample opportunities when I could have been informed.”
Word is California Sen. Kamala Harris will announce she’s running for president either on or shortly after the upcoming Martin Luther King weekend.
The exact date is still being worked out, but sources tell us it’s going to be sometime this month — the MLK holiday is Jan. 21.
“Right now, she is on a book tour, which to me looks like an unconventional run-up to an announcement,” said former political consultant Bob Shrum, who is now director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. As part of that tour for her new book, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” Harris will appear at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco Saturday.
While the presidential primaries and caucuses are still more than a year out, those in the know say Harris needs to be up and running during the first quarter of the year or risk being lost in the herd of Democratic candidates already lining up for the 2020 marathon.
“Running for president is all about the perception of momentum,” University of San Francisco political science Professor James Taylor said. “Right now, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden are the only candidates with double digit support in national polls.
“Harris is well known in California, but she and the other candidates are still in the single digits nationally,” Taylor said.
Adding to the time squeeze was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s announcement last week that she was forming a presidential exploratory committee.
“That gave Warren an instant 50-state advantage on fundraising ” Taylor said.
A source involved in national Democratic fundraising said the Harris camp has already made calls to various key donor groups — the goal is to raise upward of $500,000 by March. Both Taylor and Shrum, however, said launching a successful online small- donor network is just as important as showing you can bring in the big bucks.
“Small-dollar donations are important to project a popular base of support,” Taylor said. Sanders demonstrated that during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Although Harris will have a strong campaign presence in California, her team wants its national campaign headquarters to be on the East Coast. One reason is that the national cable news outlets, which have become increasingly critical to presidential campaign exposure, all operate on Eastern Time.