Whistleblowing in the Wind

Larry Wallace, a longtime aide to U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, has resigned but there’s plenty of backstory here to be told. Danielle Hartley, an assistant to Wallace in 2011, complained that Wallace harassed her and forced her to perform demeaning tasks. Hartley’s complaints to a supervisor brought only retaliation, so she filed a lawsuit. When the Sacramento Bee inquired about the $400,000 settlement, Wallace resigned and Harris claimed she knew nothing at all about the lawsuit, which just might be a stretch.

When Harris was district attorney of San Francisco, Wallace was her personal driver, quite the perk for a city DA. When Harris was elected state Attorney General, she brought on Wallace to oversee her security detail. After election to the U.S. Senate, Harris made Wallace a senior advisor in her Sacramento office. Yet, Harris, who led the charge against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, supposedly knew nothing about the harassment. As for Danielle Hartley, she got plenty of pushback beyond the job site.

In an answer to the lawsuit, current Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Hartley failed to utilize training and procedures to deal with harassment. Yet Becerra settled out of court with Hartley for $400,000, so by all indications, taxpayers are on the hook, not Wallace himself. As former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger might say, it’s all bad, but not the first time government bosses have turned on whistleblowers. As we noted, when ATF agent John Dodson blew the whistle on operation “Fast and Furious,” a U.S. attorney leaked information to undermine the credibility of Dodson’s public disclosures.

Meanwhile, when Delaine Eastin was California boss during the late 1990s, bogus “community-based organizations” ripped off the state department of education for millions. When CDE officials Robert Cervantes and James Lindberg exposed this fraud, Eastin demoted and reprimanded the whistleblowers. In 2002, a jury awarded Lindberg $4.5 million and held Eastin personally liable for nearly $1.4 million in non-economic damages and $150,000 in punitive damages because she had “acted with malice” toward the whistleblower.

None of this emerged in California’s establishment media during Eastin’s recent campaign for governor. So taxpayers should not be surprised if the transgressions of Larry Wallace are quickly forgotten, along with Kamala Harris’ claim that she knew nothing about the infractions of her longtime colleague.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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