Why Kamala Harris is probably not thrilled with compliment

April 7, 2013

By Chris Reed

kamala_2The instant national chortling Thursday over the fact that President Obama had called California’s Kamala Harris the “best-looking” state attorney general ended up being more about seeing the usual slippery standards on political correctness. Democrats can often get away with little blowback for things that would get Republicans fricaseed, and this was one more example.

But if you are Harris, you probably don’t appreciate the Obama remark because of the likelihood that it will remind people that it was her attractiveness that gave her her initial foothold in state politics.

Harris caught Willie Brown’s eye in her 20s

The first time she ever appears in a Nexis.com search of California news is March 22, 1994, when she was Assembly Speaker Willie Brown’s date at his 60th birthday party. She was 30 years-plus younger. But she didn’t just date Brown. She cashed in from knowing him:

“Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, continuing his rush to hand out patronage jobs while he retains his powerful post, has given high-paying appointments to his former law associate and a former Alameda County prosecutor who is Brown’s frequent companion.

“Brown, exercising his power even as his speakership seems near an end, named attorney Kamala Harris to the California Medical Assistance Commission, a job that pays $72,000 a year.

“Harris, a former deputy district attorney in Alameda County, was described by several people at the Capitol as Brown’s girlfriend. In March, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen called her ‘the Speaker’s new steady.’ Harris declined to be interviewed Monday and Brown’s spokeswoman did not return phone calls.

“Harris accepted the appointment last week after serving six months as Brown’s appointee to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, which pays $97,088 a year.”

That’s from the Nov. 22, 1994, Los Angeles Times.

Two British newspapers are going where U.S. papers won’t and connecting the 2013 compliment Harris got from America’s most powerful black politician with the 1994 “compliments” she got from California’s most powerful black politiican. Both the London Daily Mail and the London Evening Standard mentioned Harris’ history with Willie Brown, without mentioning he was double her age.

Harris’ personal history is even more exotic than Obama’s.  Her parents are Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer specialist, and Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris, who had Kamala after emigrating to the U.S. from India and Jamaica, respectively.

I’m sure this high-powered couple was just thrilled to see their daughter’s mentor/protege/girlfriend relationship with the aging, married Brown.

Yes, married.

“In September 1958, Brown married Blanche Vitero, with whom he had three children, Susan, Robin, and Michael. He has four grandchildren, Besia, Matea, Mateo, and Lordes, and a step-granddaughter, Tyler. The couple separated in approximately 1976 but remain married. He has a daughter, Sydney Brown, by political fund raiser Carolyn Carpeneti.”

How … continental.

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