Politics

#MeToo Candidate Kamala Harris Endorsed By Fellow Member With Sexual Harassment Scandal Past

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Kerry Picket Political Reporter

California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, whose former staffer resigned over a sexual harassment scandal in 2018, received the endorsement of a House member accused of sexual harassment in 2017.

Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings threw his support behind Harris on Friday saying the former California Attorney General has “moral clarity” and “has delivered results for Americans at every level of government.” (RELATED: Biden Picks Up Support From South Carolina Mayors Ahead Of Party Convention)

“Kamala Harris is the right choice to lead our nation,” said Hastings of Harris.

We live in historically troubling times and are in desperate need of leadership that exemplifies courage, conviction and moral clarity. Kamala has delivered results for the American people at every level of government and is ready to solve for the issues that especially impact communities of color including access to quality and affordable healthcare. As we look toward the future and seek a more perfect union, I feel it necessary to make my voice heard early in this process and look forward to working to elect her as the next President of the United States.

Hastings, the longest-serving member of Florida’s congressional delegation, is the third Congressional Black Caucus member to endorse Harris, joining California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee and Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green. Hastings is the first elected official from Florida to endorse Harris. (RELATED: Democrat Settled Sexual Harassment Case With $220k Of Taxpayer Dollars)

“Alcee is a career public servant and staunch voice for hardworking families and I’m proud to have his endorsement in this race,” Harris said. “I’m glad that he is joining this people-powered campaign in our fight to restore truth and justice in America and to build an economy that works for everyone.”

On December 8, 2017, Roll Call reported that the Treasury Department paid $220,000 in 2014 for a previously undisclosed lawsuit related to an alleged sexual harassment claim made by Winsome Packer, a former staffer of a congressional commission advocating international human rights.

Hastings disputed the claims at the time calling them “ludicrous” and saying that he was unaware of the settlement.

OAKLAND, CA – JANUARY 27: Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks to her supporters during her presidential campaign launch rally in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza on January 27, 2019, in Oakland, California. Twenty thousand people turned out to see the Oakland native launch her presidential campaign in front of Oakland City Hall. (Photo by Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

“I am outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid to Ms. Packer,” he said.

One year prior, The Sacramento Bee first reported in December 2017 that longtime senior Harris aide Larry Wallace resigned after it emerged that Wallace agreed to a $400,000 sexual harassment and retaliation settlement when he worked at the California Department of Justice under then-Attorney General Harris.

Wallace stood accused by his former executive assistant of “gender harassment” and belittling her by requesting she crawl beneath his desk and fix the printer paper, among other acts of alleged harassment. The lawsuit was filed in December of 2016 when Harris was in the midst of becoming a U.S. Senator and transitioning out of her role of California AG.

“We were unaware of this issue and take accusations of harassment extremely seriously. This evening, Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator and she accepted it,” Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams told Roll Call in a statement at the time.

Harris was a major member of the #MeToo movement along with other female members of the upper chamber. This group called for the resignation of Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken after photo evidence surfaced of him, then a comedian on tour, showing his hand above Leean Tweeden’s breasts.

Harris and 19 other Democratic candidates will go to Miami, Florida — just outside Hastings district — next week for the first Democratic debates. Florida will award more than 200 delegates in the 2020 Democratic primary.

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