Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has a potential #MeToo problem on her hands, as Democrats continue to insist that women who make sexual harassment complaints must be believed and the accused men must be held accountable.
Back when she was the attorney general for California, Harris’s office negotiated a plea deal for former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, a Democrat, after the city’s district attorney filed criminal charges against him for his abuse of three unidentified women. Filner agreed to plead guilty to a felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery in exchange for a much lighter sentence. Though he faced five years in prison, thanks to Harris’ office he was sentenced to just three months of house arrest, three years’ probation, the partial loss of his mayoral pension, and — at first — a prohibition on ever running for public office again. A judge ended up removing that prohibition and applying it only to the time that Filner was on probation.
My former employer The Washington Examiner reported that Harris is receiving criticism from some critics and organizations over her offices’ handling of the Filner affair. Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, told the Examiner that serious allegations “need serious consequences,” though she could not speak to the specifics of the Filner case.
“The cultural change since #MeToo is having an impact of how prosecutors listen to victims now. I think it all comes down to whether we believe women and how seriously we take these allegations. In serious instances, you need serious consequences,” Raghu told the outlet. “Powerful people can afford high-profile legal counsel that others don’t have access to. People know how to leverage the system in their favor.”
Harris’ spokesman, Ian Sams, told the outlet that the senator and presidential candidate was praised for “taking action” against a member of her own party.
“She prosecuted a politician from her own party for sexual harassment, and he pled guilty to a felony. She was broadly praised for taking action, including by the Republican San Diego County district attorney who said it sent ‘a strong message that nobody is above the law, abuse of women won’t be tolerated and victims will be treated with respect,'” he said.
But as the Examiner noted, this isn’t really enough for Harris, who has been critical of the former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and the plea deal he helped work out for Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, which helped the registered sex offender avoid jail time.
It makes Harris look like a hypocrite. She defends her own sweetheart deal by claiming it was tough, but criticizes Acosta because he’s a member of the Trump administration.
Filner, for those who don’t remember, was accused by nearly 20 women of sexual harassment, including groping and forced kissing. He insisted he did nothing wrong but also admitted he had treated women poorly and would seek treatment for his behavior, which he didn’t complete. He resigned as mayor after national Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who was at the time the House minority leader, condemned his behavior.
Correction: A previous version of this story quoted a representative from the National Women’s Law Center as if she were speaking about Filner specifically. She was speaking generally about accusations.