5 Kamala Harris controversies: Extramarital affair, pro-life
raid and Knights of Columbus criticism
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced
Tuesday that Sen. Kamala Harris of California would be his vice
presidential running mate.
Fulfilling an earlier campaign promise to have a minority female
running mate, the former vice president took to his official
Twitter handle to make the announcement.
“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked
@KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one
of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,”
Harris had previously been a fierce critic of Biden, taking him
to task during a Democratic primary debate over his past
opposition to federally mandated busing to desegregate schools.
A former district attorney of San Francisco and later the
attorney general of California, Harris’ public career has not
been without its controversies, especially as she garnered
Here are five controversies surrounding Harris. They include
some of her decisions as attorney general of California, the
questioning of a judicial appointee, and a lawsuit filed by a
high-profile pro-life activist.
In the early 1990s, a then 29-year-old Harris dated former San
Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, age 60, who had been separated but
not divorced from his wife since the 1980s.
In a letter published by the San Francisco Chronicle in January
2019, Brown said that while he was dating Harris, he helped to
launch her political career.
This included appointing Harris to the California Medical
Assistance Commission and the California Unemployment Insurance
Appeals Board, both in 1994, The Washington Examiner reported.
For her part, Harris has distanced herself from Brown, telling
SF Weekly in 2003 that the former mayor, who weathered
corruption allegations, was an “albatross hanging around my
“Would it make sense if you are a Martian coming to Earth that
the litmus test for public office is where a candidate is in
their relationship to Willie Brown?” she told the publication at
“Willie Brown is not going to be around. He's gone — hello
people, move on. If there is corruption, it will be prosecuted.
It's a no-brainer, but let's please move on.”
In June 2019, multiple news outlets reported on allegations
that, while district attorney of San Francisco and attorney
general of California, Harris poorly handled Catholic Church sex
“Harris specialized in prosecuting sex crimes and child
exploitation as a young prosecutor just out of law school. She
later touted her record on child sexual abuse cases and
prosecuting pedophiles,” The Intercept reported at the time.
“But when it came to taking on the Catholic Church, survivors of
clergy sexual abuse say that Harris turned a blind eye, refusing
to take action against clergy members accused of sexually
abusing children when it meant confronting one of the city’s
most powerful political institutions.”
Specific allegations argue that Harris did not actively pursue
such cases, refused to meet with abuse survivors, and refused to
release files regarding clergy abuse to the public.
Some, including attorney Michael Meadows, who has represented
victims of clergy abuse, speculated that Harris' inaction was
“There's a potential political risk if you move aggressively
against the church,” Meadows told The Associated Press. “I just
don't think she was willing to take it.”
In response to the claims, the Harris campaign gave the AP a
statement last year touting Harris’ overall history of
prosecuting abusers, but did not directly address the issue of
clergy sexual abuse.
“Harris has been a staunch advocate on behalf of sexual assault
victims, especially child sexual assault victims,” the campaign
said at the time. “[Harris] used her position as District
Attorney to create the first unit focused on child sexual
assault cases in the office's history.”
In December 2018, Harris garnered controversy for critically
questioning a judicial appointee’s association with the Catholic
fraternal group, the Knights of Columbus.
Alongside fellow Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Harris
questioned Brian C. Buescher over his affiliation with the
“Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s
right to choose [abortion] when you joined the organization?”
Kamala asked Buescher at the time.
“Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed marriage
equality [same-sex marriage] when you joined the organization?”
Kathleen Blomquist, the spokesperson for the Knights of
Columbus, denounced the questions from Hirono and Harris as an
example of “anti-Catholic bigotry.”
“We were extremely disappointed to see that one’s commitment to
Catholic principles through membership in the Knights of
Columbus — a charitable organization that adheres to and
promotes Catholic teachings — would be viewed as a disqualifier
from public service in this day and age,” said Blomquist to the
Catholic News Agency at the time.
During a Democratic presidential debate in August 2019, Rep.
Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii took aim at Harris, saying she was
“deeply concerned” about Harris’ track record as a prosecutor.
“There are too many examples to cite, but she put over 1,500
people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about
it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard
“She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from
death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people
in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for
the state of California.”
Harris responded, saying that when she was attorney general of
California, she “did the work of significantly reforming the
criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which
became a national model for the work that needs to be done.”
“I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches
or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor, but
actually doing the work of being in the position to use the
power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of
reform,” Harris said.
She then went on to state her support for legalizing marijuana
and responded to Gabbard's assertion that she owed an apology to
all those she wronged while attorney general.
“I think you can judge people by when they are under fire and
it's not about some fancy opinion on a stage but when they're in
the position to actually make a decision, what do they do,”
In May, pro-life activist and citizen journalist David Daleiden
of the Center for Medical Progress filed a lawsuit against
Harris and others in response to his home being raided after he
exposed Planned Parenthood's harvesting of aborted baby body
parts for profit.
In response to the CMP’s release of videos showing Planned
Parenthood violating the law, then California Attorney General
Harris ordered a raid on Daleiden's apartment in 2016 where his
laptop, hard drives, and unreleased undercover videos were taken.
Daleiden and CMP accused Harris and the other defendants of “a
brazen, unprecedented, and ongoing conspiracy to selectively use
California’s video recording laws as a political weapon to
silence disfavored speech.”
“Daleiden became the first journalist ever to be criminally
prosecuted under California’s recording law … because his
investigation revealed and he published ‘shock[ing]’ content
that California’s Attorney General and the private party
coconspirators wanted to cover up,” the lawsuit states.
“Defendants seek their ‘pound of flesh’ from Mr. Daleiden and to
chill other journalists from investigating and reporting on that