Longtime aide to Sen. Kamala Harris resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

Washington Post

A longtime senior aide to Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., resigned Wednesday amid allegations of sexual harassment while working for Harris during her tenure as attorney general of California.

The resignation of Larry Wallace, who served as director of the division of law enforcement in the California Department of Justice, came after the Sacramento Bee inquired about a $400,000 settlement reached in a lawsuit filed by Danielle Hartley, who served as Wallace's assistant, against the state of California.

Hartley alleged that she was subjected to demeaning behavior, including being ordered to put paper in a printer under Wallace's desk.

The December 2016 lawsuit was settled in May 2017 by Xavier Becerra, Harris' successor as attorney general.

"We were unaware of this issue and take accusations of harassment extremely seriously," Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams said in a statement Wednesday night. "This evening, Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator and she accepted it."

In response to questions Thursday, Adams said that Harris learned of the complaint, which was filed a few days before she was sworn in as a senator, on Wednesday, nearly two years later. Neither Wallace nor the California Department of Justice informed Harris' Senate office about the settlement, Adams said.

After Harris' 2016 election to the Senate, Wallace became a senior adviser in her Sacramento office. The allegations against Wallace did not surface during the transition, Adams said.

Harris, who is considering a 2020 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been active in the #MeToo movement and advocated for legislation broadening protections against workplace harassment.She also won plaudits from Democratic activists for her aggressive questioning of Brett Kavanaugh when he appeared as a Supreme Court nominee before the Senate Judiciary Committee to address allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct.

According to Hartley's lawsuit, she "had concerns she was being harassed and demeaned due to her gender."

"This included Wallace placing his printer underneath his desk on the floor and ordering Hartley to put paper in Wallace's printer or replace the ink on a daily basis," the lawsuit said. "Hartley requested that the printer be moved to another location so she would not have to bend down on her knees under the desk in her dresses and skirts, but Wallace refused."

Hartley alleged that "many times" Wallace asked her to put paper in the printer with other male senior staff members in the room.

In the lawsuit, Hartley also said that her "meaningful tasks" were taken away and that she was asked to book flights for Wallace's children, wash his car and run personal errands.

In a statement Thursday, the California Department of Justice said it "does not comment on personnel matters and this case was handled in keeping with standard procedure."

First published in The Washington Post

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