Kamala Harris

Once Again, Kamala Harris' Record as a Prosecutor Was Less Than Progressive

There is no need to excuse Kamala Harris' law enforcement record just because it has outlived its usefulness for her political ambitions.

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Joe Biden announced Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) will be his nominee for vice president, and so it appears we are once again litigating Harris' record as a prosecutor.

Harris's law enforcement career—first a line prosecutor, then San Francisco District Attorney, and finally California Attorney General—became a sore spot for her in the Democratic primary. The party had moved left on criminal justice, which took the sheen off her law enforcement bona fides. 

In response to that shift, Harris has attempted to paint herself as a progressive prosecutor. Nevertheless, the pejorative refrain from the left flank of the Democratic Party has been "Kamala is a cop." In the wake of Biden's announcement, Democrats and pundits are now trying to help her buff out the rough spots:

In a piece headlined "Kamala Harris Did What She Had To," The Atlantic's Peter Beinart wrote that Harris' deference to police and prosecutors was necessary for her political survival, which is not exactly a sterling endorsement of Harris, law enforcement, or politics.

More convincingly, former San Francisco public defender Niki Solis writes in USA Today that Harris was indeed a progressive district attorney, citing Harris' practice of not charging low-level marijuana cases, her creation of a diversion program for juvenile offenders, and her refusal to pursue the death penalty, even in the case of a murdered police officer.

"Simply put, Harris was the most progressive prosecutor in the state," Solis writes. "This is not an anecdotal opinion. It is based on facts."

It is true that Harris pursued diversion programs and other progressive issues as San Francisco D.A. (It's also true that the San Francisco D.A. is probably the most progressive in the state as a general rule. Harris actually ran as a law-and-order candidate in 2003 against the incumbent lefty D.A.)

Solis didn't mention what happened after that death penalty case, though. The backlash nearly cost Harris her shot at becoming the California Attorney General in 2011 after police unions didn't endorse her. After Harris squeaked into office by one percentage point, she tacked toward the center and never lost the police unions again. As attorney general, she defended the California death penalty and opposed efforts to increase oversight of fatal police shootings.

As Beinart wrote, Harris did what she had to do to survive politically. It would be one thing if Harris said that working within the system required her to moderate herself, or that her views have shifted since her days as A.G., but instead, she insists her career in law enforcement was progressive. Whenever Harris is pressed about specific instances where she was decidedly unprogressive, she dodges, misleads, or glosses over the facts. 

In her memoir, The Truths We Hold, Harris explicitly acknowledged the immense power of prosecutors in the criminal justice system.

"America has a deep and dark history of people using the power of the prosecutor as an instrument of injustice," Harris wrote in the book. "I know this history well—of innocent men framed, of charges brought against people of color without sufficient evidence, of prosecutors hiding information that would exonerate defendants, of the disproportionate application of the law."

Yet Harris avoids addressing why her office did things like defend egregious prosecutorial misconduct, fight exonerations, oppose civil asset forfeiture reforms, or appeal the removal of the entire Orange County district attorney's office from a high-profile death penalty case after a bombshell report revealed an unconstitutional jailhouse snitch program.

Harris office' launched an investigation into the Orange County D.A. scandal in 2015. The investigation ended four years later, after she had moved on to the U.S. Senate, with no charges against the sheriff's deputies involved, despite a California Superior Court judge ruling that two deputies "intentionally lied or willfully withheld material evidence." The Los Angeles Times reported in January that the California Attorney General's office only interviewed a handful of sheriff's deputies, none of whom were the ones at issue, and that the investigation had been moribund since 2017.

In 2010, while Harris was still San Francisco D.A., a California superior court judge slammed her office for failing to notify defense lawyers of known misconduct by a drug lab technician that later led the San Francisco police to shut down an entire section of the lab. The judge noted "a level of indifference" from prosecutors, who were aware "at the highest levels of the district attorney's office" of the problems.

In fairness, Harris may have been unaware of some of the cases her office was involved in—the California Attorney General's Office employs more than 1,100 attorneys—and state attorneys general most often reflexively defend prosecutors and the state's position. But if that's the case, it still doesn't sound like an official who was terribly concerned about the dark history of prosecutorial misconduct and wrongful convictions.

Harris has a solid record to tout in the Senate, where she is notably progressive and one of the most vocal advocates for criminal justice reform. But there is no need to excuse or whitewash Harris' law enforcement career just because it has outlived its usefulness for her political ambitions.

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  1. In a piece headlined “Kamala Harris Did What She Had To,” The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart wrote that Harris’ deference to police and prosecutors was necessary for her political survival, which is not exactly a sterling endorsement of Harris, law enforcement, or politics.

    She was DA of San Francisco. In what universe are the voters of San Francisco so old school law and order that the DA has no choice but to be a hard core throw everyone in jail for any crime prosecutor?

    The upshot of her being VP is watching the media degrade itself even more pretending the truth is other than what it obviously is. I didn’t think after 8 years of Obama that was possible. But it is.

    There is no way that Beinert really believes that. You have to wonder what kind of long term effects having to lie like that for a living will have on his character and personality. I find it hard to believe that Beinert doesn’t deep down feel worse than the cheapest whore when he goes home from work. How could he not. I am sure he goes to great lengths to rationalize it and convince himself he is doing good and not just degrading himself but rationalizations only go so far.

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    1. The above post is more honest than anything Beinert wrote.

    2. Deemon_semon

      Aren’t you one of Trump’s COVID-19 quacks?

  3. Wow, I’m impressed to see a Reason article willing to buck the new narrative and bring up Harris’ embarrassing track record as prosecutor. Still waiting for The Libertarian Case for Kamala Harris, though.

    1. As the daughter of two immigrants, she could have been seen as a success story for open immigration. Then she got into government.

      1. Obama could have done that for race relations. Yet he chose to open the wounds rather than heal them. No profit in peace.

    2. She can meet privately with her female staff, that’s a plus. At least I hope she can meet privately with her female staff without worrying about harassment allegations, not that there is anything wrong about that, the potential for harassment, not the actual harassment, but I suppose it would be a step forward for real equality.

    3. There is none. Egregious prosecution is only the start. Ending private health insurance, anti 2nd Amendment. There is no freedom in any of her policies.

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  4. Less Than Progressive

    Yep, she is too far to the right.

    Wait, that doesn’t fit with The Dotard’s Dems Want to Kill The Police lefty narrative!

    What does Bratfart say?

    1. Says the person who claims the charge that she is a lunatic who threw innocent people in prison is a “rightwing meme”. Pick a fucking lie dumb ass. All you do is lie but you need to pick one.

      1. He also diddles children, don’t forget that.

        1. You QAnon boys say that about everyone.

          1. We (commenters here) only say it about pieces of shit who admit to it.

            And how fucking brain damaged do you have to be to come back and use the same retarded handle for a stupid governor who hasn’t been relevant in 12 years? Shrike level brain damaged apparently.

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    2. Sarah Palin’s Buttplug 2
      August.12.2020 at 4:03 pm
      “Less Than Progressive..”

      Don’t you have some kid to diddle, turd? Or maybe your dad diddles you…

  5. Biden picked her precisely because she chips away at the conservative middle-of-the-road voters. There is no danger of Antifa voting for Trump – no need to appease them.

    Next bombshell please. (silly reporting)

    1. Nothing says “middle of the road” like a liberal black woman from California.

      Harris got 2% in the Democratic Primary. She has shown zero ability to appeal to anyone outside the far left.

      1. 2% is just about what Pence got when he ran for POTUS. Maybe a little less.

        Harris checks some boxes like Pence did. Trump needed a fundie-nut Aborto-Christian Bible-Beater and he got one. Biden needed a female AA.

        Both examples are identity politics – which suck.

        Which begs the question, since Pence can’t be in the same room/stage as a woman will they put a person in their to chaperone? Those fundie-nuts are strange.

        1. No one voted for Pence you idiot. They voted for Trump. When you have a candidate who isn’t senile and everyone knows is up to the job and will make it four years, the VP is an afterthought.

          Sadly for Democrats, they don’t have one of those. They have a guy who is clearly suffering from some form of cognitive decline and whose supporters even admit won’t last four years in office if elected. So, the VP matters.

          And nominating a woman whose claim to fame is arguing to keep innocent people in jail and wanting to throw parents of kids who skipped school in jail while also siding with BLM and Antifa rioters once she was in the Senate isn’t going to help Biden’s cause with anyone except the retarded like you. And Biden already has your vote, though your child porn habit likely has gotten you a felony conviction depriving you of that.

          1. Ha! John thinks that the 20% of voters in the middle actually care about the issues.

            How naive.

          2. I’d say a lot of people are less confident that Trump is up to the job for another 4 years now, so Pence may hurt him this time around.

          3. The problem with your argument is that Trump is mentally out of it (check the video), has shown he is incompetent at the job of President and is likely to poison himself with some home remedy for the coronavirus. So the VP matters as much to the Republicans as it does the Democrats.

          4. When Trump said that the Spanish Flu pandemic ended World War II was he being senile, or just plain stupid?

            Seems we have two doddering old men as major party Presidential candidates, not just the Democratic candidate.

            1. I’d go with stupid, but it could just be a regular case of “I run my big fucking mouth too much, giving me ample opportunity to spit something out before my brain processes it”

              I think that’s how he shits out so much twitter content too, fwiw.

          5. I found Pence a little calming, since I didn’t think Trump really wanted the job. At least there was someone around that could do it.

        2. Mike Pence was also the sitting governor of Indiana, a state Obama won in 2008. Pence won statewide election in a swing state. Harris has never won an election outside of California, which is a one party state where Democrats don’t even have to campaign or make any effort to appeal to anything but the retard left like you.

          My God you are stupid. Just dumb as a post.

      2. Harris is middle of the road in the new Democrat Party.

        1. Wile E. Coyote was middle of the road too.

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  6. ” . . . and so it appears we are once again litigating Harris’ record as a prosecutor . . . ”

    Not at all.
    She is what she is; a lying scheming socialist politician.
    The record is there; what happens on the web, stays on the web.

  7. In a piece headlined “Kamala Harris Did What She Had To,” The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart wrote that Harris’ deference to police and prosecutors was necessary for her political survival

    Fucking despicable. Fuck you, Peter Beinart.

    1. The Atlantic somehow had a bevy of pro-Harris articles queued up yesterday before the announcement, almost like they’re in the employ of the DNC.

    2. So she’ll do anything to advance her political career. But we already knew that.

      1. She’ll do anything for love, but she won’t do…

        I can’t think of how to finish that sentence.

    3. I’ll take him at his word, but he better not pivot to how courageous she is.

      1. They’ll find someone else to say it.

  8. A self-identified Ku Klux Klan leader accused of driving a truck through Black Lives Matter protesters in June was convicted on multiple misdemeanor charges and sentenced to six years in prison during a court hearing Monday, according to prosecutors and court records.

    Harry H. Rogers, 36, of Hanover, Va., was not found guilty of hate crimes, which would have served as sentencing enhancements.

    But the judge imposed the maximum sentence on each of the misdemeanors — four counts of assault, a hit-and-run and destruction of property — which amounts to more time than the mandatory sentence for the hate crime.

    “Even without the recognition of the sentencing enhancement, the court still found the defendant’s behavior to be of such significance that he still imposed maximum sentence,” said Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor.

    WaPost

    Maybe Trump will pardon him.

    1. So when protesters are violent, they are prosecuted and sentenced. That’s good to know.

      Maybe there’s still hope for the two unarmed black teenagers who were killed in the CHAZ.

      1. Shriek doesn’t think their lives mattered.

  9. again, Joe just gave away the election…her phoniness, disingenuous demeanor, and arrogance (based on nothing mind you) will cost him voters in the upper midwest, big time…and she will generate no bump in african american turnout

    1. You should start your own 538 type site.

      Wait – I’ll just check on what they actually say instead:

      We don’t know if Harris will help or hurt Biden win the general election.
      Research suggests that the electoral impact of vice presidential candidates is fairly limited. I would expect Harris to follow the same pattern. Harris is a sitting senator who was competent during the debates she participated in during the 2020 Democratic primary process, so she is unlikely to make huge gaffes that raise questions about why Biden selected her (in the way that Palin became a problem for John McCain in 2008). At the same time, a senator from California doesn’t provide an obvious electoral boost in a key swing state. Also, overall, Harris wasn’t a particularly effective candidate when she ran for president last year.

      So the most likely outcome is that Harris’s selection doesn’t change much — either Biden keeps his current lead and wins the presidency or Trump comes back based on factors that don’t have a lot to do with Harris. But politics is dynamic, so I’m not sure that prediction will come true.

      Not quite the same as your opinion.

      1. Only 538 could determine that since past VPs didn’t matter, Joe Biden’s VP doesn’t matter.

        1. When he is not arguing that she is going to save Biden, he is claiming the choice doesn’t matter. He is a comical retard

      2. “ut politics is dynamic, so I’m not sure that prediction will come true.”

        538 might as well have no opinion at all.

        1. It is Nate Silver’s move. He never actually predicts anything. He just gives percentages that can never be tested. Whatever the outcome he can always claim his model accounted for it and predicted it.

          You have to give him credit. It takes a significant amount of balls and foresight to figure out that people really are dumb enough not to see what he is doing. But there are plenty of people like Butplug here who really are that stupid

      3. I should, intellectual dilettante. Thank you. When you can conceive an actual counter argument inside your own pea brain, let me know.

      4. 538 has less credibility than you.

        1. not clicking that

  10. All I want is to see a current picture of Kamala Harris – has anybody got one? We all saw what a horror show her facelift was when she appeared on TV laughing and giggling about John Lewis, has she healed up from that or was that the actual final result? “Cause I’d be suing the shit out of the butcher who did that shit to me. Is Kamala Harris currently recognizable as Kamala Harris?

    1. and nearly every pic of her for news articles is like from 2004 or an air brushed current one

    2. Oh, was that a facelift? I thought she just went wild with botox and her face was swollen.

      -jcr

  11. Obama was once against raising the budget ceiling as senator. Then we was for it as president. The democrats have a long history of flip flopping and waffling. And their base is so stupid they eat it up.

  12. So that means you guys like her, right?

  13. Harris did what she had to do to survive politically.

    You know who else ….

  14. It’s fifth-dimensional chess by the grandmaster Biden. Trump is already calling Harris simultaneously soft on crime and against justice reform. Even though both are true the Left thinks it will weaken his attacks.

    1. the two are not mutually exclusive, nitwit…..besides Joe already gave away one dimension called the upper midwest with this pick

      1. Joe Biden doesn’t need Senator Harris for the Midwest, he is his own best asset there. Kamala Harris will bring out votes in close southern states force Trump to compete. Trump is behind in Wisconsin and if he works to save Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes he could lose Texas’ 38 votes.

        1. You think Biden can take Texas? Wow….that is some hardcore delusion.

          1. Biden campaign thinks the polling is good enough to justify an ad buy. Biden/Harris may not win Texas but they might make Trump/Pence work for it.

            1. Moderation4ever
              August.12.2020 at 10:06 pm
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          2. Down ticket voting. Show up for Biden, but also be there to vote in closer races. Having a majority in Congress really helps, even if you’re really sure that state’s EVs will be going to the other guy.

        2. but she is a massive negative in the upper midwest…wiping out his supposed positives there

  15. Once Again, Kamala Harris’ Record as a Prosecutor Was Less Than Progressive

    Looks like Reason is getting closer and closer all the time to finally admitting what has been obvious to many of us for quite some time: they are no longer libertarian, they are “progressive“.

    1. It’s a social signal to their peers.
      For Reason writers libertarianism is only a way of announcing that they’re a contrarian, but that they’re socially left and totally cool with the way that sex and drugs works for the American upper-middle class elite.

  16. Turnout this November is gonna be epic.

  17. Kamala Harris’ Record as a Prosecutor Was Less Than Progressive…

    Yet Harris avoids addressing why her office did things like defend egregious prosecutorial misconduct, fight exonerations, oppose civil asset forfeiture reforms, or appeal the removal of the entire Orange County district attorney’s office from a high-profile death penalty case after a bombshell report revealed an unconstitutional jailhouse snitch program.

    Sounds typically progressive to me. They always fight the Kulaks and wreckers with the iron fist of the state.

  18. As Beinart wrote, Harris did what she had to do to survive politically.

    This theme keeps coming up with Harris.

    1. Yeah, and because of that, I just don;t see a huge groundswell of support for Heels Up Harris from religiously oriented, strong black women.

    1. It’s so hard to distinguish what is satire and what is not satire lately.

    2. “America’s minority population have reported looking forward to seeing what it might be like to be prosecuted and imprisoned by a woman of color.”

  19. I give Joe Biden 18 months before the 25th amendment is invoked or he has a fatal stroke. Either way, you can bet that Kamala will make sure he is out of the picture by then.

    1. Trigger the 25th Amendment, send Biden somewhere where he can fish or whatever he does in his spare time.

      Maybe they can invent a Star Trek style holodeck where Biden can pretend to be President.

      1. I’d probably get a holodeck myself, but it may not be in my price range.

      2. “Maybe they can invent a Star Trek style holodeck where Biden can pretend to be President.”

        Be sure to program plenty of women and girls with sniffable hair.

  20. A look:
    Whether by conspiracy or simple stupidity (I favor the later) most of the media has spent the last 3+ years spouting bullshit about Trump and then cherry-picking every mal-aprop they can find, ignoring ‘I’ve just spent my time canvasing 57 states’ (said Obama and printed by no lefty rag anywhere).
    The hope is that everyone has listened to the bullshit, and it’s possible enough did to elect Kamala Harris as POTUS.
    But alternatively:
    “Boycotted. Criticized. But Fox News Leads the Pack in Prime Time.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/09/business/media/fox-news-ratings.html
    Further,Trump has 80.3 million followers on Twitter: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/28/trump-twitter-by-numbers/
    Yep some of those Trump twitter followers are really pissed at him, but the hag’s popular vote in 2016 was 65,844,610.
    I watch no TV news, wife has ‘broadcast’ news on in the evening. To be clear, she does not watch Fox; I overhear what what she watches, usually CBS, I think. The ads are now mostly ambulance-chasers.
    That tells you something of revealed preference: The viewership is so lame, they’re selling time on local CBS/NBC/ABC affiliates to AMBULANCE CHASERS! Oh, and Billy Graham!
    Perhaps your message is so irrelevant that you need to sell time to, oh Chiropractors? Scientology? Flat Earthers?

  21. OK, fuck the Reason ‘awaiting Godo:
    Sevo
    August.13.2020 at 1:10 am
    A look:
    Whether by conspiracy or simple stupidity (I favor the later) most of the media has spent the last 3+ years spouting bullshit about Trump and then cherry-picking every mal-aprop they can find, ignoring ‘I’ve just spent my time canvasing 57 states’ (said Obama and printed by no lefty rag anywhere).
    The hope is that everyone has listened to the bullshit, and it’s possible enough did to elect Kamala Harris as POTUS.
    But alternatively:
    “Boycotted. Criticized. But Fox News Leads the Pack in Prime Time.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/09/business/media/fox-news-ratings.html

    1. Further,Trump has 80.3 million followers on Twitter: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/28/trump-twitter-by-numbers/
      Yep some of those Trump twitter followers are really pissed at him, but the hag’s popular vote in 2016 was 65,844,610.
      I watch no TV news, wife has ‘broadcast’ news on in the evening. To be clear, she does not watch Fox; I overhear what what she watches, usually CBS, I think. The ads are now mostly ambulance-chasers.
      That tells you something of revealed preference: The viewership is so lame, they’re selling time on local CBS/NBC/ABC affiliates to AMBULANCE CHASERS! Oh, and Billy Graham!
      Perhaps your message is so irrelevant that you need to sell time to, oh Chiropractors? Scientology? Flat Earthers?

  22. Biden was the token white guy for Obama, she gets to be the token black female for Biden.

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  24. Kamala is already the media’s darling. She could have rounded up Jews and executed them, as long as she’s a black female with a D after her name, that’s all the elites need. The morning news was repugnant how it gushed over Jamaka as the next president. Biden introduced her as the next president. That was after he made yet another racial blunder by saying black girls now have so.eone to look up to and make them feel proud. Does the Left realyze how cringe worthy all this is, or they dont care? Think goodness I’m fluent in 4 languages. With my remote job I can work anywhere. It wont be the US.

    1. Are there any countries that haven’t closed their borders to Americans?

      Trump: a case study in irony, among other things.

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